DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A bitter dispute between Dawson County’s first-term Sheriff Jeff Johnson and the Dawson County Board of Commissioners will finally move into Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop’s courtroom tomorrow (Jan. 30).
On Dec. 18, Bishop ordered county commissioners to appear before him to show cause why Johnson’s petition for mandamus “should not be issued as requested and such other relief be granted as the facts of the case may warrant.”
Johnson claims the $8,273,080 budget approved by the commissioners for 2018 is inadequate for him to perform the duties of his office. He has requested his budget be set at $8,961,406.
Commissioners counter that Johnson is wasting taxpayer dollars by not using the county’s Purchasing Department or following the county’s established purchasing policies. They say the 2018 budget they approved represents a one-year increase of close to $1 million and is the largest increase awarded to any county office.
In fact, figures released by the county show that the sheriff’s budget has increased by $2.3 million since 2014. County Manager David Headley said the sheriff’s budget grew by $525,381 in 2015, $348,648 in 2016, $457,632 in 2017 and $985,277 in 2018.
Moreover, a Georgia Department of Community Affairs survey reveals Dawson County citizens pay more per capita to operate the sheriff’s office and jail than any other county in north Georgia. The survey of 26 counties shows Dawson County citizens pay $273 each.
Headley said the county has repeatedly reached out to the sheriff to offer assistance in matters such as human resources, finance and purchasing, and grants and maintenance.
“We have a well-trained staff and policies in place, which can help with compliance with the law and doing things in the most efficient and economical way,” Headley said. “Our offers have frequently been ignored or declined.”
Tuesday’s hearing is set for 9:30 a.m.
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