Commissioners nix sheriff’s request

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Move would have shifted funds from new positions to pay increase for CCSO employees.

County Commissioners on Tuesday refused a request to use money set aside for new positions to instead fund pay raises for the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Jody Greene had requested that commissioners allow him to reallocate funds approved for four court bailiffs and one detention officer to give sheriff’s office employees a five percent pay raise. The raise was rejected by commissioners with the passage of the fiscal 20-21 budget earlier this month. CCSO employees instead got a three percent raise, the same as other departments in the county.

Commissioners are also under the gun from an order by Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser to make multiple improvements to the courthouse, including the addition of officers t the courthouse. With the addition of the satellite courthouse in Hallsboro last week, bailiffs are stretched thin between the courthouse annex in Whiteville and Hallsboro.

“I’m concerned we could be found in contempt if we did not provide the deputies like we identified in the safety meeting,” Prevatte said.

The request prompted Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd to ask if the CCSO “is overstaffed.”

Byrd said the sheriff’s request would shift funds from a total of eight positions, freezing three that are currently unfilled.

“If they don’t need these positions,” Byrd said, “maybe we need to look closer at that.”

Commissioner Ricky Bullard asked County Attorney Amanda Prince to explain the School of Government’s opinion that reallocating the money would be against the law.  Prince emphasized that the general statutes prevent reallocation of salaries after a budget has been approved.

County Manager Mike Stephens, who is also a licensed attorney, refused to respond to Bullard’s request for his thoughts.

“I am not in a position to offer legal advice,” Stephens said. 

Bullard suggested that the board and the sheriff negotiate with Sasser, an idea that Byrd immediately put down.

“I don’t think Doug Sasser is going to do anything the sheriff asks him to,” Byrd said.

Bullard was the only commissioner to cast a negative vote when the board approved Prevatte’s motion to refuse the request.

About Jefferson Weaver 2040 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].