Commissioners OK funding request for SRO program

Sep. 17, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved a $342,000 request from Sheriff Tracy Carter to fund the School Resource Officers program Monday night.

Carter requested the funds for the SRO program during the commissioners' meeting Monday at the Lee County Government Center.

The SRO program was transferred from the Lee County Board of Education to the Lee County Sheriff's Office at the behest of the commissioners, and authorized by a local state bill, this summer.

Carter sought approximately $86,000 from the commissioners and $261,000 from the school board during the Monday meeting. If the school board would not transfer the funds, Carter asked for the full funding from the commissioners. The school board received $261,000 from the state for the purpose of securing schools, but these funds can be used for other budget items, according to Lee County Manager John Crumpton.

Commissioner Robert Reives made the motion to fully fund the sheriff's request regardless of the school board, and it was approved unanimously by the commissioners. 

"We gave (Carter) this, and we need to fully fund it," Reives said.

However, Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack asked Crumpton to seek all legal means to seek the funds from the school board.

"I think it is only fair to say we would never transfer a department and not transfer the money with it," Womack said. "And that appears to be what happened to the county. We didn't get an in-kind transfer thanks to the gamesmanship by another organization. I am disgusted by this approach."

Crumpton said he met with Lee County School Superintendent Andy Bryan Monday, and there was a possibility of the schools transferring those funds. However, funding was not included in the latest memorandum of understanding between the Lee County Sheriff's Office and the school board.

Commissioner Amy Dalrymple said this was one of her concerns when this was "pushed through here and pushed through in Raleigh."

"This is why I wanted to table it," she said. "We ran this through without talking to the board of education."

The Lee County Sheriff's Office also requested $70,000 to restore funding for part-time salaries from the previous two years and sought approval to purchase eight new vehicles.  Commissioners appropriated $35,000 for the part-time positions, and approved the capital purchases.

In other matters, Commissioners:

* Heard a presentation from Dan Parks and Ted Abernathy, consultants hired to construct an economic development strategy for the county..

* Held a public hearing on the N.C. Department of Transportation Rural Operating Assistance grant application, which would help transport Lee County residents using the COLTS vehicles. COLTS Transportation Coordinator Sidney Morgan spoke in favor of the grant, and no one spoke against it.

* Were recognized for their assistance during the Young Commissioner program, which was a two-week leadership course for local students.

* Appointed Commissioner Jim Womack, Max Dolan, Robert Kain, Ken Armstrong and Meg Moss to the Triangle South Workforce Development Board.

* Appointed Tom Snell to the Sandhills Mental Health Board.

* Appointed A.K. Griffin to serve as the Cape Fear Township representative on the Agriculture Advisory Board.

* Appointed Robert Woods to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.