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Commission opposes bill giving sheriff budget authorty

It was not a matter the Russell County Commission would spend a long time discussing.

An Alabama Senate bill giving the state's county sheriffs the ability to change budget line items without the approval of county commissions was not likely to get a lot of support Tuesday, when a resolution expressing the county commission's opposition to such a change was on the table.

It didn't, as the commission voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Russell County legislative delegation against a change in the law. A member of the local delegation, Sen. Myron Penn, D-Union Springs, is on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that was expected to discuss the bill in the legislature on Tuesday.

The bill would force the county commission to change other budget line items should the sheriff determine that his department — which includes law enforcement and jail functions — needed more funds that originally budgeted.

"This legislation is one of the most dangerous bills that has been introduced to the legislature," said Commissioner Cattie Epps, who first broached the subject during the commission work session Monday night.

Typically, the county sheriff's office has required a large part of the county budget due to its size and the jail. "Right now the bulk of our budget goes to law enforcement, which is good," said Epps. "I don't think we need to allow them to control it."