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County files complaint against state Human Services

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County Attorney Spencer Lee told the Dougherty County Commission after its meeting Monday that he'd filed a complaint against the Georgia Department of Human Services over unpaid fees Dougherty Sheriff Kevin Sproul has billed the agency.

Lee said the county had attempted to settle the matter, which focuses on attempts -- successful and unsuccessful -- to deliver notices of past-due child support to citizens in the county, but had been unsuccessful in its attempts.

The county attorney said he filed the complaint Monday before the 10 a.m. commission meeting started.

"Sheriff Sproul had billed the Department of Human Services $105,000 for uncollected service fees after his department was sent to deliver notices of delinquent child support," Lee said. "On some occasions Sheriff Sproul's department was given a correct address, on others the addresses were insufficient. But just because he was unable to deliver the notice doesn't mean he didn't provide the service.

"State law says that the state shall pay an agency delivering such notices $50, and we interpret that to mean that payment must be made each time these services are provided. The state feels they have legal basis for denying these funds, but we respectfully disagree."

Lee said the county is asking for $127,000 from the state Department of Human Services for unpaid fees dating to August of 2011. He said he'd offered to settle the county's claim for $54,000, but state officials rejected the offer.

"They sent us a check for $5,000, which I assume is their attempt to settle the issue," Lee said. "We, of course, rejected that offer."

County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard asked Lee if he had made every attempt to work out an agreement with state officials.

"I don't know if I've ever worked harder to try and settle a matter," the attorney said. "This did not come from a knee-jerk reaction; this whole thing has come about over a period of time.

"We've gotten to a point where it's time to let a judge make a determination on who's right."

Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette told The Herald when it first wrote on this matter that he had allowed the local Department of Family and Children Services contract with private processors to deliver the delinquent child support notices while the county and state try to settle the matter.