With the money that Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. requested to operate the juvenile detention center unavailable in county coffers, a committee of the Jefferson County Quorum Court came up with a compromise Tuesday.
However, that didn’t sit well with one member of the county’s legislative body.
Justice of the Peace Jimmy Fisher, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he and Justice of the Peace Ted Harden had met with Woods, who agreed to take $76,000 to operate the center for a month. They also agreed to revisit the issue next month.
Woods had requested $468,350.85 to finish out the year, and he also offered two other options: A three-month budget of $301,725.27 or a one-month budget of $100,581.10. The original ordinance said the funds would come from County General.
But Fisher said the funds would come from the Public Safety Sales Tax fund, which, according to the County Treasurer’s Report for July, had just over $275,000 in it, rather than County General, which had $155,000 in it.
In a memo to County Judge Gerald Robinson, Chris Brown, the office manager for the Sheriff’s Office, said that when the 2019 budget for the juvenile center was approved, it was almost a half-million dollars less than what Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson, who was sheriff at the time, had submitted.
Brown said when that budget was approved, Robinson said that representatives of the office would come back for more money later.
Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll described the meeting of Woods, Fisher and Harden as a “drive-by” and questioned the fact that there was no written documentation to accompany the changes that Fisher said were being made and no explanation as to why such a drastic reduction in the requested amount was accepted.
Harden, who chaired the committee meetings in place of County Judge Gerald Robinson, said the more than $468,000 that Woods was requesting was not available, and the appropriation ordinance for the $76,000, along with a change in the funding source, will be addressed by the full Quorum Court when it meets Monday.
Robinson left Tuesday’s meeting early because of what Harden said were knee pains.
On a motion by Justice of the Peace Dr. Conley Byrd, the JP’s voted to table the appropriation until the regular meeting Monday when the correct paperwork is available.
Carroll, who, early in the committee meeting attempted to ask a question, was told by Fisher that he was not accepting questions. He then relented, telling Carroll he could ask a question but not make a comment. Carroll said he believed he had the right to ask questions because he was seeking information.
“It would not bode well for me to be told I don’t have the same rights and privileges as the other elected officials,” Carroll said.
“Your comments are noted and well received, and we will do the best we can,” Harden said.