The Long County Commission recently voted down a motion supported by two of its members to cease funding fuel for Georgia State Patrol troopers in the area.
Commissioner Andy Fuller made a motion to discontinue providing fuel to troopers to offset cuts made by the state last year. Earlier last year, the commission approved spending up to $3,000 per month to provide fuel, via gas cards, to local troopers who serve the Long County area.
Fuller, who no longer agrees with that measure, said he feels that providing fuel is akin to forcing citizens to pay for services they already are paying for.
Commissioner David Richardson said he also does not support the fuel measure because troopers still would have to provide service to the county regardless of whether their fuel is paid for.
However, the county actually may be getting the better end of the bargain. Commission Chairman Bobby Walker said that while the monthly fuel payment may be as high as $3,000 per month — which equates to $500 in fuel for each car in the six-vehicle fleet — the county is making more money through citations and fines given by the troopers. Walker said Long County receives 85 percent of the revenue from fines and citations issued to motorists. Additionally, the chairman said, the troopers do not use the county-issued gas cards until after they use the GSP’s monthly allotment for gas so, often times, the county’s monthly fuel bill is less than $3,000. In December, for example, the county only paid for $950 worth of fuel for the troopers.
Regardless of the circumstances, Fuller said he still does not agree with paying for any of the fuel. He also questioned troopers’ treatment of area motorists. Fuller said that a trooper once pulled him over on a Sunday and treated him as if he’d been drinking and driving.
Commissioner Clifton DeLoach said he had seen troopers driving on dead-end dirt roads, which they have no business being on.
Commissioner Wallace Shaw said the troopers are doing their jobs and warned that if the county stops paying for fuel, the GSP won’t be able to continue to provide the current level of service to Long County.
“The troopers are doing a good job and they are keeping the DUIs and illegal drivers off the roads,” Shaw said.
Long County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Danny Dinkins, who also attended the meeting, pointed out that in addition to traffic citations, stops sometimes lead to arrests for more serious crimes, such as buying and selling drugs.
After Fuller made the motion to stop the gas cards, Richardson seconded it, but DeLoach, Shaw and Walker voted to continue paying for area GSP troopers’ fuel. Even though the measure failed, Richardson said when it surfaces again at the start of the fiscal year, he wants it voted on as a budgeted item instead of an expense covered by general funds.
In other business:
• Local developer Bill Nutting, owner of Providence Construction, told commissioners that the final issues with the Long County Recreation Complex would be corrected. Commissioner Clifton DeLoach told the other commission members that he would follow up with Nutting to make sure that the fixes are completed promptly.
• Dinkins told the commission that the department of corrections is holding its meeting this week. The issue of a county jail will be discussed.
• At the request of Tommy Houston, one of the county supervisors for the Coastal Soil and Water Conservation District, commissioners approved $300 for increased conservation activity in the county.
• Commissioners also were questioned by Long County Board of Elections member Nancy McKnew regarding several issues stemming from the recent election, and the commission heard a report from Long/Liberty County EMS interim Director Robin Todd. Both of these issues will be reported on in Sunday’s edition of the Coastal Courier.