Lee County officials, sheriff confer on budget issues | VIDEO

The Lee County Commission chairman expects a resolution soon

LEESBURG — Lee County Commission Chairman Rick Muggridge has expressed confidence that an impasse between the County Commission and Lee Sheriff Reggie Rachals will be resolved “in a couple of days.”

The conflict surfaced when County Manager Ron Rabun received an invoice of $18,340 for digital video recording equipment for the county jail. Rabun said the expenditure was not included in this year’s budget. He suggested that the bill be paid from the sheriff’s drug forfeiture account, a move that was opposed by Rachals.

Muggridge, Rachals, Rabun, County Attorney Jimmy Skipper and County Commissioner Greg Frich met for about an hour Tuesday.

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“I think we cleared the air,” Muggridge said Tuesday evening. “What I saw coming through was a great spirit of cooperation. I think I’ll be calling in a couple of days with a resolution to this particular issue.”

Muggridge earlier said he was committeed to a “hard line in regard to the budget.” Rabun initially said he did not plan to pay the invoice unless instructed to by the commission.

Muggridge said he and Rabun plan to meet monthly with Rachals in the future to discuss budget matters.

In the past, Muggridge said Rachals would move money as needs cropped up. As a side effect, Muggridge said, county commissioners during their budget planning would be looking at historical figures that were not accurate.

“Through no fault of his own, we’ve been operating in a silo and we’re changing that,” Muggridge said.

The balance is staying true to the county budget and also meeting the needs of the Sheriff’s Department, Muggridge noted.

“I am committed to the budget,” Muggridge said. “My obligation to the board is that if there is a change that needs to take place, the board will hear about it. The sheriff is willing to work on this. … We can have budget amendments. At the end of a year, we’ll have one year’s experience with a real budget.”

Efforts to contact Rachals were not successful.

During their regular meeting Tuesday night, commissioners approved a road resurfacing list that was submitted by the board’s Road Committee.

The list was approved as submitted with resurfacing of Lovers Lane Road from Robert B. Lee to Forrester Parkway as the No. 1 project. The work covers 3.99 miles and has a projected cost of $399,100.

However, the commission initially wanted to widen that section of the roadway by two feet. That had been deleted from the plans, but Commission Vice Chairman Dennis Roland and Muggridge revived the issue Tuesday night, saying the matter deserved further consideration from the full board.

Planning Director Matthew Inman pointed out that the cost of widening Lovers Lane would add about $250,000 to the project’s cost. He based the estimate on a rate of $62,500 per mile of work. Resurfacing alone cost about $90,000 per mile, Inman said.

The commission also plans to have North Doublegate from U.S. Highway 82 to the Dougherty County line and James Pond Road from State Highway 32 to Palmyra Road resurfaced this year.

In other action, commissioners recognized the 30 emergency medical technicians who have become certified firefighters after undergoing extensive training in the past few months.