Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek, left, speaks with Jackie and Tommy Rouse before the start of Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. Jackie Rouse, the mother of slain DCPD officer Lt. Clifford Rouse, asked commissioners not to do anything that would harm the DCPD as they continue their budget discussions.
ALBANY, Ga. — A group of citizens, including the mother of a Dougherty County Police officer killed in the line of duty, asked Dougherty County Commissioners Monday to reconsider proposals to cut county police and close libraries.
Commissioners are still debating what measures to take to balance the FY 2013 budget for the unincorporated portion of Dougherty County.
With the majority of that fund dedicated to service delivery agreements with the city of Albany, including recreation and fire services, and the remainder funding the Dougherty County Police Department, the commission’s options are limited.
Jackie Rouse, the mother of Lt. Cliff Rouse — a Dougherty County Police Officer who was shot and killed on Dec. 23, 2010 while responding to an armed robbery on Sylvester Road — asked commissioners to find other alternatives to solving the budget crisis without hampering or hurting the organization her son loved.
“He was proud to be an officer with the DCPD,” Rouse said. “I’m asking as a staunch supporter of the DCP that you reconsider your options and leave the DCP alone. “
While Rouse noted that she lives outside Dougherty County, she said she does pay a good amount of sales taxes in Albany and Dougherty County and believes that the unincorporated area could ill afford to be left with a stripped-down DCPD.
In response to commissioners wanting a what-if scenario if they decided to avoid raising the 2 mills County Administrator Richard Crowdis has recommended to make the unincorporated area solvent, Crowdis offered an alternative that would allow property owners to avoid a tax increase but would gut the DCPD, according to Chief Don Cheek.
The challenge, according to Crowdis and the commission, is that the unincorporated area answers to its own fund that is separate from the county’s general fund due to the concept of double taxation. The county can only tax the people of the unincorporated area for services that are provided and can’t tax the people within the corporate limits of the city for services in the unincorporated area.
A separate group of individuals asked the commission Monday to do something to stop the Library Board of Trustees’ recently announced decision to close two library branches and lay off six employees.
The Rev. Eddie Bankston, Melvin George and Selina Wingfield each asked commissioners to work to find alternative sources for funding the library’s budget. The library, which is funded partially by the Dougherty County Commission and the state, has received the same $2 million allocation from the commission as it did last year.
“We’ve got to do something other than cut the services that people need,” Bankston said.
Commissioners will vote next Monday at 10 a.m. on whether to adopt a special service district budget that includes the the 2 mill increase.