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Hill threatens county with legal action

The county commission could be headed toward a climactic legal collision with the sheriff-elect, if Chairman Crandle Bray continues stripping the sheriff's office of the components it needs to succeed, said Victor Hill, who overwhelmingly defeated incumbent Stanley Tuggle in the July 20 primary.

The threat of litigation comes as the Clayton County Board of Commissioners prepares to act today on the proposed transfer of $83,394 in sheriff personnel funds to code enforcement, creating two inspector positions that will be housed in the Department of Community Development.

"Any further actions like this will result in legal action," Hill said.

Hill has voiced frustration over what he calls "vindictive political moves" to minimize the scope and authority of the sheriff's office, including the possible transfer of the drug task force and crime scene investigations units to other public safety entities.

But at least the movement of the $84,394 to code enforcement may not be as politically motivated as Hill suggests.

Code enforcement is understaffed, Bray said, and the funds from two unfilled correctional officer positions at the county jail could alleviate the over-extension of the department's resources.

Eddie Williams, director of community development, confirmed an inadequacy in the number of marshal positions used to write non-criminal citations, such as illegal garbage dumping or property maintenance.

"Right now, we've got six code enforcement officers, and a whole lot of homes and businesses to inspect," he said. "We could probably use more than just two."

Hill said he agrees that code enforcement likely needs expansion. However, it should not come from the county jail staff, which he said he learned from jail officials, was working mandatory overtime.

Sheriff's office officials could not be reached for comment as of press time Monday.

While the county commission chairman position is headed for a transition in January, little collaboration exists between the outgoing and incoming chairmen, said Eldrin Bell, the Democratic nominee for the position.

"The transfer of the funds would be solely (Bray's) decision until such time as I take office," he said.

As Hill attempts to resist what he suspects is a marginalization of his future job, he said he understands that change is on the horizon.

"I think things will get better," he said.