Coucil considers closing cop shop

City Councilman Vince Lewis told the mayor and council at Monday night’s meeting that he believes the city could save $900,000 per year by eliminating the city police department.

Mark Engel

engel@lakeoconeenews.us

 

Greensboro city councilman Vince Lewis dropped a budget bombshell at Monday night’s regular council meeting.

 

He wants to eliminate the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) and have the Greene County Sheriff’s Department take on the responsibility for patrolling inside the city limits.

 

Including police officers and office staff, Lewis says there are about 17 employees who would be affected. Some of them could be hired by the county if the proposal becomes reality.

 

Lewis says the GPD represents a cost of about $1.5-million dollars which is half of the entire city budget.

 

He told the council that he asked Greene County Sheriff Donny Harrison to put together a proposal that “at a minimum would give Greensboro 24-hour coverage with deputies dedicated to the city exclusively, therefore not compromising the safety and security of our citizens.”

 

Lewis said the cost would be $600,000 annually which, he said, would save Greensboro taxpayers $900,000 each year.

 

He also said that an additional benefit would be to move city hall to the current police department building on East Bush Street, which would afford more parking and office space.

 

In a statement, he read to the council and mayor, Lewis said, “this proposal isn’t meant to be a final solution but merely a tool at our disposal, if the current expenditures cannot be significantly reduced.”

 

There was little response to the proposal by others on the council.

 

City manager Larry Postell told the Lake Oconee News on Tuesday that the city has pretty much held taxes at the same level for 25 years and will likely not raise them this year, which is an election year.

 

Postell said the city budget is getting tighter in part because they recently renegotiated a lower tax rate with Novelis, the city’s largest revenue source.

 

“If council decided to go with that proposal,” he said, “then they would enter into contract negotiations with the county for an intergovernmental agreement. And if they don’t, we’ll probably just continue budget cuts.”

 

Also, at the Greensboro City Council meeting Monday:

 

  • Council approved holding the tax base for the Oconee Brewing Company for five years at the level that existed before the business was built. City Community Development Director Cail Hammons said it was a tax break promised as an incentive for the microbrewery to invest in downtown Greensboro.

 

  • Council heard from Hammons about a new round of Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) grants the city will be making available for important improvements to distressed properties in the city.

 

  • Council approved changes in the city’s Alcohol Beverage ordinance to all microbreweries to sell their product on site. The new wording now matches that in a new state law that went into effect this summer.

 

  • New Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bradley Lupton told the council about the success of the Chamber’s Leadership program which has already helped 90 10th graders improve their leadership skills.

 

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