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Wednesday, August 30, 2017
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Commission wants out of school resource officer, drug task force business
By Evan Belanger Staff Writer
The Morgan County Commission voted Tuesday to remove from
its budget a revenue neutral program for funding school resource officers at
county schools, citing lagging payments from the sheriff’s office.
Maybe Ana can start paying the MCSO bills on time now that she has
completed work on her huge property in Saraland.
It also informally agreed that fiscal 2018, which starts
Oct. 1, likely will be the last that the county funds the Morgan County Drug
Task Force, effectively giving the sheriff a year’s notice to reabsorb the task
force’s four personnel through attrition.
Defunding the Drug Task Force is one large step in getting the sheriff's
office house in order. The drug task
force was once a great enhancement of the sheriff's office capabilities. Now it seems that the only reason Bones
Wilson goes to work is to do Ana's bidding.
Instead of worrying about what the whistleblowers were doing they should
have been performing their jobs w/o huge amounts of overtime. To be fair Bones Wilson's overtime is the
most egregious of anyone within the sheriff's office.
In honor of the late Howard Battles: This is the appropriate time to say that Howard Battles successfully obtained enough grants each year to pay the entire cost of the drug task.
Commissioner Jeff Clark proposed both changes during a
work session Tuesday. He said the Drug Task Force, which is budgeted for
$286,352 next fiscal year, was once funded entirely with grant money.
There is absolutely no reason in the world that the commission should be
funding the drug task force; the resources are there and available for grant money. Bones Wilson used one of the clerks to do all
his paperwork because he was too dang lazy to write his own reports up. Sheriff Franklin, Bones, and a few others
have come to believe that they are entitled to these funds. They have no desire to help their own
As those grants have fallen off, he said, the county’s
general fund has been forced to cover the expense, which it can no longer
The reason the grants have fallen off is that of lazy management and poor
planning from the sheriff's office.
Specifically, Sheriff Franklin and Bones Wilson. The task force is their responsibility.
“I don’t see how we’re going to be able to do that from
now on. Those are going to have to be absorbed back into the deputies that she
has,” Clark said.
The deputies have suffered because of Sheriff Franklin's conduct for 6
years and 8 months. These issues will
not be resolved until the sheriff is indicted, fired, impeached, and
arrested. Until that time the deputies
and the rest of the MCSO employees will continue to suffer.
The commission took no formal vote, because it dealt with
a budget more than a year in future, but a majority of commissioners voiced
“I would be fine with leaving it in the budget this year,
but notifying her that it would be the last year, so she is prepared,”
Commissioner Don Stisher said.
Sheriff Ana Franklin was not present for the meeting, but
she objected to the proposal in an interview afterward, saying narcotics abuse
and the crimes that stem from it are the biggest issues law officers face in
So, what is Sheriff Franklin's excuse for not being in the meeting this
time? Franklin seems to know that
narcotics abuse is a big problem in the county but she can't prepare the
documentation required to submit for federal grants. Why?
Because she is rarely in the sheriff's office. With narcotics being one of the biggest
issues the county faces, why does Franklin release the inmates who are in jail
for manufacturing, distributors, and
traffickers to the public?
Franklin said the personnel was in place before Homeland
Security grants became available to cover their salaries and that she could not
see how cutting law enforcement would make the county a more desirable place to
live. “There’s a certain point where you
can’t cut costs and expect to generate revenue,” she said.
Franklin just doesn't get it. She
uses a desirable place to live as if it just rolls over her tongue. There is a certain point where the county
must say "Sheriff Franklin enough is enough.
You have done nothing to enhance the operation of the sheriff's
office. Surely, you did expect that if
your office continued to feed off of the county, the citizens of the county,
state, and federal agencies that there would be consequences to pay".
Commission Chairman Ray Long suggested commission staff
and sheriff’s officials could work together to pursue grants in the coming
year, but he noted the task force has not received a grant for two years and
that the last grant received was only about $60,000.
Mr. Long, your heart is in the right place but to be truthful Sheriff
Franklin is doing everything in her power to get rid of you, Clark and the
others. Though you have bent over
backward to assist the sheriff's office you will never be able to do enough for
this sheriff. Have you known of her to
take responsibility for anything that she has done since taking office?
The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to pull from its
upcoming budget a $211,431 line item for school resource officers.
We need school resource officers in our schools. This is another incident where Franklin has
neglected her job as sheriff.
Communications between Franklin, the school superintendent, and the
schools should have been a critical part of ensuring that we have adequate
funding for our school resource officers.
The resource officers are a valuable asset.
The program is technically revenue neutral for the
county, because the sheriff’s office reimburses the expense, but Clark pointed
out those reimbursements have been lagging for months.
The bottom line is to put the blame where it belongs: right on Sheriff
Franklin's back for not paying her bills on time. Again, maybe since her property projects in
Saraland have been completed, she can focus on her day job and pay her bills.
“I think there’s some confusion on somebody’s part as to
how it’s invoiced. The end result is that we’re $67,000 out of pocket right
now,” Clark said, noting the sheriff’s budget for fiscal 2018 proposes
increasing spending on the school resource officer program by more than
Increasing the spending on school resource officers is probably a good
idea. Ok, Sheriff, it is time you get
out and do your job. Get out there and
talk to the right people in the school system to obtain the money for resource
officers. The school system knows how
important it is to protect our most precious assets. Our children cannot be replaced. The schools want to do everything in our
power to protect our children. Doesn't
Falkville pay for their school resource officer?
“They’ve got to come up with some other arrangement,
because I don’t think this budget can stand being in arrears all year,” he
said, calling for Franklin to arrange an SRO agreement directly with the school
Place the responsibility clearly on the sheriff's back. She caused most of these problems and she
should be responsible for the fix.
Under the existing agreements, the county pays the
salaries of the school resource officers and bills the sheriff’s office for the
expense. The sheriff’s office bills the school system, and uses revenue
received from the schools and discretionary money to repay the county.
It is most likely like pulling teeth to get a dime from Sheriff Franklin. Which has to be a strain on the commission.
County records showed, as of Tuesday, the sheriff’s
office had paid $106,830 in reimbursements in fiscal 2017, but it had not paid
from March through July, resulting in a debt of $64,667 to the county.
Sheriff Franklin has $150,000.00 in her personal account she named 'inmate funds'. Perhaps she could use part
of those funds to pay her bills current.
Franklin said she is committed to doing whatever is
necessary to keep the two salaries and four contract officers in county schools
and that she would work with county and school officials.
Well, Sheriff it is about time you do something for the county. Saraland has taken up way too much of your time.
She attributed the delayed payments to a delay in
payments from Morgan County Schools, as well as increased costs at the
sheriff's office associated with the new jail and other expenses. She said she
was using discretionary money to cover the county bills but could no longer
afford to do that until reimbursed by the schools.
Again, Saraland has taken way too much of the MCSO money.
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Billy Hopkins Jr.
said he was pleased Franklin was committed to keeping the SRO program going and
that the school system could not afford the program on its own, but he said the
school system paid all bills on time.
Of course the school pays their bills on time. Franklin should not blame anyone other than
herself for the lack of funds within the sheriff's office. We call that problem Saraland.
Hopkins said the school system agreed to pay the
sheriff’s office $168,500 for six school resource officers last school year. From August to December though, he said, the sheriff’s
office only had five officers available, but billed the school system for six.
When the school system declined to pay for the sixth officer, the sheriff’s
office amended its billing to reflect five.
Then, from January to May, the sheriff’s office brought
the number of school resource officers back to the agreed upon six, but it only
billed for five, Hopkins said. That caused the sheriff’s office to adjust its
bill again in the last invoice of the year.
The school system paid that bill, totaling $56,167, on
Thursday, Hopkins said. Of that, approximately $14,042 was for the officer
inadvertently left off for five months. The rest covered normal billing for
We have always said that the sheriff uses fuzzy math. Somethings never change. Case in point she will be the first to blame
anyone but herself for these most recent problems.
In other business, the commissioners informally agreed to
a 2 percent raise for the county's 390 employees, including the commissioners
and other elected county officials. It would be the first raise in two years.
The raise is projected to cost roughly $211,087, leaving the commission with a
scant surplus of $13,000 for fiscal 2018.
Place the burden where it belongs: within the sheriff's office for
raises. Sheriff Franklin has never taken
responsibility for her office mission, equipment, gear, vehicles for the
deputies, and last but not least her employees.
"Our best investment is our employees, and I think
with the tough budget they have basically had to pick up the slack, so they
have earned and deserve a 2 percent raise," Stisher said.
The commission is expected to consider its fiscal 2018
budget on Sept. 12. The budget projects a 3.4 percent revenue decline and cuts
spending by more than 4.5 percent, including more than $394,750 in cuts to 19
outside entities and nonprofit charities.
Well said, Stisher. Your most valuable
assets are in your employees.