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Commission tables SRO talks

FOSTER

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While some county commissioners felt that the commission should vote Monday night on the subject of hiring more school resource officers in the county school system, the move was tabled to allow time to study the situation further.
Commissioner Jack Barton of the 2nd District made the motion to vote on including SROs for the four DeKalb County schools who do not have them, and 4th District commissioner David McDowell seconded the motion.
While the county budget committee normally considers all funding matters then makes a decision on their inclusion in the budget brought before the entire commission, Barton requested that commissioners vote to approve the hiring of the SROs, then direct the budget committee to find a way to fund them.
“ This subject matter is a very grave one, because I know as a parent I want to make sure we, as a legislative body, have done everything we can to protect our children, secure our schools, and develop a bond of trust between our children and law enforcement officials who would serve as their resource officers,” Barton told the assembly.
While Sheriff Patrick Ray recently told the mayor and commissioners that the additional officers would cost nearly $250,000 the first year, he said that after the initial investment in equipment and vehicles the cost would drop to less than $150,000.
County Mayor Mike Foster wanted to know where the additional funds would come from.
“If you approve hiring them you've got to fund them. How do you propose to fund them?”  Foster inquired.
“We know how much SROs are going to cost. I propose for us to have the $249,000 allocated in the budget,” Barton retorted.
“But from where does it come? We've got to have a source,” Foster said.
“The source may very well be, even without the resource officers, that we would have to have some tax increase. We're facing that with the Affordable Health Care Act,” Barton replied.
“I think if we're going to vote to do it, you've got to have a funding mechanism. I don't think you can just say we're going to hire them and not have some way to fund it,” said Foster.
“My motion is to advise the budget committee to plan for that. The budget committee is who sets the funding source and approves that to the full commission,” Barton returned.
Before a vote on the motion was taken, 7th District Commissioner Larry Summers moved that Barton's motion be tabled to allow the commission more time to study the matter.
“I make a motion that we table this for further discussion. We haven't really discussed it thoroughly enough. Everybody knows where our hearts are. We just have to see how we can pay for these things,” Summers said.
Commissioner Mason Carter (1st District) seconded Summers’ motion.
Foster then called for a vote, and the commission voted 9-2 to table Barton's motion.
Mason Carter, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Bobby Joines, Jeff Barnes, Jerry Scott, Wayne Cantrell, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, and Marshall Ferrell voted to table the motion, while Jack Barton and David McDowell cast dissenting votes.
Commissioners Jimmy Poss and Bradley Hendrix were not present.


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