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Bulloch Local Government

Council suspends Register PD indefinitely

After months of financial turmoil, the Town of Register council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to suspend the police department indefinitely effective December 31, 2015.


The Register Police Department, which has been in operation only a short time in comparison to the town, has caused the town a slew of financial problems while operating in excess of $300,000 with expensive equipment, patrol cars, license plate scanners, and a police chief salary of $41,000 and has been at the forefront of the council meeting discussions for the last five months.

Mayor John Williams began the meeting noting that the police department has put the town in the position to write tickets to meet the next payroll and pay the next set of bills, all while falling short every month. Williams said that “people know what to expect in Register now,” so the revenues have decreased and it leaves the town “chasing money” constantly. Williams expressed that even out-of-towners traveling through are no longer providing an opportunity to write tickets.

Questions from citizens poured in as to whether the police department was there to write tickets or provide protection to the public while citing the operations of Pulaski, where an annual budget does not exceed $70,000. Councilman Kevin Boyd suggested that perhaps he and any other outgoing council members should avoid making significant decisions before the new council members are sworn in, but Councilwoman Brittany Brannen expressed her concern to find a solution during the meeting considering the financial distress of the town.

Three months ago, the council voted to temporarily suspend the police department through cuts, but in November, Mayor Williams reversed those cuts citing his support of law enforcement and the benefit of having them on the payroll. Without them, he said the town sees even more reduced revenue. Councilwoman Brittany Brannen explained that cuts to the police department are not enough because court fees, probation oversight, solicitor and judge salaries, and jail costs are not reduced with the reduction of the police employee hours. Additionally, unless the next town court date brings in substantial money, the January 8th payroll deadline will not be met.

Mayor Williams said no one from the police department has offered suggestions as to how cuts can be made in operations or salaries and that discouraged him, even though he is not against the police department. Williams did mention that the police chief, Tom Kile, has made hires without the approval of council and essentially “runs the town.”

Faced with issues over how to pay nearly $20,000 in expenses in the next 30 days, the council voted unanimously to move money from savings to cover the following immediate expenses due December 31:

  • Police Department add-ons – $5,435.60
  • Down payment on 2016 workers compensation – $1,574.00
  • Bulloch County jail fees – $920.00
  • Brannen Law firm – $3,187.75

After those payments, the town will have less than $2,000 in the bank, excluding water deposits in the water account -which cannot legally be used – and the SPLOST account.

Still due in the next 30 days are payments to:

  • Thigpen, Lanier, Westefield and Deal for an audit – $7,696.54 (which has a 1% monthly interest rate)
  • Liability insurance – $3,160.50
  • Outstanding uniform payments (to be paid from the police seizure fund that is currently empty) – $809.38

The town still has an outstanding credit card debt of $7,000.

Councilwoman and Mayor pro tem Barbara Rushing noted that the financial issues in the town of Register go beyond the police department and every council member needs to be prepared to present solutions to the community in the upcoming  meetings as to how the outstanding issues will be resolved.

Register will work to rollover outstanding tickets to state court to avoid court costs in February. There was no mention as to whether the town would eventually contract with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office for police needs.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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