LEESBURG, Ga. — Despite concerns over ongoing negotiations with Lee County and Smithville officials over the split of local-option sales tax money, the Leesburg City Council voted Tuesday night to approve $20,000 for the installation of four cameras in city police cars.
Police Chief Charles Moore said the cameras would provide protection “for the city and for my officers” in cases that would be “our word against theirs.”
“We had one of our officers pull a woman over in front of the courthouse the other day, and she started cussing him,” Moore said. “He said he would have arrested her, but in court it would have been his word against the woman’s, so he didn’t make the arrest.”
City Attorney Bert Gregory, who also serves as a judge, said that while video surveillance is not required during a court hearing, it does provide compelling evidence.
“A lot of times, a judge is left with a question of who to believe,” Gregory said. “Video is pretty good evidence, especially in DUI cases.”
Councilwoman JudyPowell expressed concern over a tight budget that is expected to get tighter when LOST negotiations are finally settled, but Councilman Bob Wilson made a strong statement in favor of the cameras before making a motion to approve the funding.
“All I can say is that this city is in bad shape if we can’t find $20,000 for something this important,” he said.
Ronny Dudley with Stevenson & Palmer Engineering discussed ongoing efforts to find a permanent employee to monitor the city’s wastewater treatment plant in the wake of the termination of former plant manager/interim Public Works director Bill Mitchell. Dudley noted that an employee seeking a long-term contract turned down a proposal to do the job under current circumstances.
“He wants to come to work with us, but he has to have a secure job,” Dudley said. “I think we have the situation handled for the short-term, but it’s up to y’all to decide if you want to do something more permanent.”
Powell asked Dudley about testing at the plant, which had led to EPD fines and was a factor in Mitchell’s termination, and Dudley said, “Everything’s in compliance right now.”
Randy Kirby requested “from $800 to $1,200” to buy a new bush hog for Public Works, a request that led to spirited debate.
Responding to a comment offered during the discussion, Mayor Jim Quinn said, “’It’s just $800’ ... and ‘it’s just $1,000’ ... and ‘it’s just $20,000.’ That becomes a lot of money. But I have a hard time turning down Randy’s request for $800 when we’ve just approved $20,000 for Chief Moore.”
The board voted to approve up to $1,200 for the piece of equipment.
Prior to the meeting, Gregory swore in Billy Breeden as the council’s newest member. Breeden qualified unopposed for the seat vacated by former councilwoman Rhonda Futch.