Chatham County sheriff goes before commission - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Chatham Co. sheriff requests funds from board

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence goes before commission to request funding. Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence goes before commission to request funding.

With the deadline coming up for the Chatham County Board of Commissioners to approve a budget - they held another budget hearing on Monday.

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence went before the commission to request more funds for the county jail. It was a request the board did not take very well.

The meeting lasted more than two hours.

"Today was a budget workshop, and we told them what we needed. They will have to decide what they do with it. I can't open the towels without the people to do it," said St Lawrence.

The sheriff's office is dealing with overcrowding in the jail. To fix that, they want to open up two new units to house prisoners. The plans require more employees and more equipment.

The sheriff's office has requested a budget of nearly $49 million.

"If you look at his budget over the past two years it has gone from $36 million to over $48 million and that is just for the corrections part of his operation," said Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott.

"I understand it is a big request. I would rather not have to make this request, but I have a responsibility as sheriff of this county," St Lawrence said.

If the sheriff's office does not get the budget they asked for, they will not be able to open the two new units.

The county commissioners have said that if the budget is approved right now as it is, the millage rate would increase by 1.4. mills. 


"It is my intent to approve as little of a tax increase as possible," Scott said.

The board asked the sheriff's office to do a number of things, including reviewing the budget and seeing if they can cut anything else out of it. 

"If the commissioners don't approve it then I will have to work with what I got. But I will not be able to solve the overcrowding problem," the sheriff said. 


The annual budget will be approved at the end of June. 

"The sheriff has to convince the commission and ultimately to taxpayers that this is a good use of their money," Scott said. 

Public hearings will also be held so the community can voice their concerns. The first meeting will take place May 24.

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