Burke County Sheriff continues to fight for control of his budget

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams isn’t giving up his fight to gain control of his agency’s budget away from county commissioners.

He says he has the inherent power to keep control of his payroll and that the commissioners have no inherent power to exclude him.

As a result, he said this week that he had filed a brief with the Georgia Court of Appeals.

In November 2021, he had sought an order directing the commissioners to hand over control of payroll administration to his office. The commissioners filed a counterclaim seeking an order directing the sheriff to comply with county purchasing procedures.

The Burke County Superior Court denied both applications for mandamus and entered a declaratory judgment on January 25.

“We believe the Superior Court made a reversible error in denying our motion and stating that it is ‘at the discretion of the Board of Commissioners to continue to administer payroll'” for employees of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office , Williams said.

Williams said under Georgia law:

  • Sheriffs have inherently broad powers, except to the extent that they are limited by statutes, which are strictly construed against violation of those powers.
  • The commission has no inherent powers and the power must be specifically granted by laws, which are strictly construed against such power.
  • Sheriffs operate independently of the control and authority of the commission, subject only to budget limits.

“The sheriff’s right to control the payroll of his employees is grounded in common law and the Georgia Constitution, which makes it clear that the powers of the sheriff are inherently broad, while the powers of the Commission are inherently limited,” said said Williams. “The Commission does not have the right to dictate how funds allocated to the sheriff are to be used. Yet, by requiring control over the payroll of sheriff’s employees, the Commission is able to do just that.

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