MONTGOMERY, Ala – State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) has authored several new bills which would increase accountability and efficiency of taxpayer dollars in Etowah County law enforcement. “I have worked closely with the legislative delegation, Sheriff Jonathon Horton, and the Etowah County Commission in drafting these bills,” said Jones.
“I am confident that they will result in a sizeable savings of taxpayer dollars and bring accountability and transparency to leftover prison food funds. I appreciate the Sheriff and Commission for their willingness to work with me on these measures.” Under Senate Bill 270, excess funds from inmate feeding in Etowah County would be held in a Sheriff’s Discretionary Fund, which could be used for law enforcement purposes, school resource officers, and the operation of the office of the Sheriff. Excess funds could not be taken as personal income by a sheriff. A similar statewide bill, Senate Bill 228 passed the Senate last week.
“I would love to see a statewide bill pass,” said Jones, “however, our delegation can not take for granted that a statewide bill will make it through the House. We must have a fail-safe measure in place, which is why I began advertising a local Etowah County-only bill 3 weeks ago. The voters wanted this issue addressed, and we listened to them.” A separate bill currently being advertised would abolish the office of Constable in Etowah County at the end of the current Constable’s term or a vacancy in the office.
The Constable’s responsibilities would revert to the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department. Constable positions have been gradually decreasing statewide as counties have opted to consolidate those responsibilities into their Sheriff’s Departments. “Our current Constable, Jerry Entriken, is not planning to run for another term of office. After consultation with the County Commission, I felt like this was the time to go ahead and make this change, which would make our local government more efficient,” said Jones. Another proposed bill (and partner constitutional amendment) would abolish the Etowah County Sheriff’s Personnel Board, whose duties would revert back to the Etowah County Personnel Board.
This would avoid duplication of services, provide for county oversight, and result in a modest savings to taxpayers. A final bill would allow for the Etowah County Commission to provide an expense allowance for the Sheriff at the Commission’s discretion. Under present law, the legislature must approve each increase for the Sheriff’s expense allowance each time that the Commission requests it.
This bill would allow the Commission to make changes on its own, and gives them the flexibility to adjust the allowance if prison populations such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees fluctuate drastically.