Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr is suing Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and the rest of the Columbus city government over claims that Mayor Tomlinson and the City Council illegally substituted his proposed fiscal year 2015 budget. According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, the lawsuit claims that the Mayor or “someone acting on her behalf” substituted his office’s proposed budget of $26,853,715 with a reduced budget of $24,827,343. Sheriff Darr claims that the actions of the Mayor and the City Council violate the charter of the City of Columbus as the City charter prohibits Mayor Tomlinson from proposing an alternative budget for the Sheriff’s office.
In her defense, Mayor Tomlinson claims that the cited budget numbers in the lawsuit are incorrect. She further claims that the entire office budget for Sheriff Darr for fiscal year 2015 is $27.67 million, slightly more than the $26.27 million allocated for fiscal year 2014. Speaking to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Tomlinson said, “They have tried to find a way to make his budget look like it was smaller than it was the year before. His budget is $400,000 more this year than last year, and that is an indisputable fact.” Tomlinson also argues that Sheriff Darr is wrong in his interpretation of the City’s charter.
WLTZ reports that Sheriff Darr is seeking to have his legal fees reimbursed by the city as he had to get external legal counsel to file the lawsuit. He is also requesting the court to issue an injunction that would permit the Sheriff’s office to operate on the previous fiscal year’s budget on a monthly basis until the City Council can “legally pass” a budget for his office.