Thomaston submits Open Records Requests for county data on Road Deparment and Sheriff

Ashley Biles Associate Editor

October 30, 2013

After a nearly two hour executive session at a called meeting last week, the Thomaston City Council entered into open session and passed a motion to seek judicial resolution on the service deliveries from the Upson County Road Department and the Upson County Sheriff’s Department.

Council also stated in a separate resolution that there is no need for Upson County to provide police and road services within the city limits, nor do they want the county to supply these services, noting there is no agreement between the two governing bodies which states the county is authorized to do so. The document also specifically noted the city objects to the county’s use of any funds collected from residents of the city to fund either of those departments, as any road services provided by Upson County in the unincorporated areas are for the primary benefit of the unincorporated areas and its residents, not the city or city residents.

Furthermore, the resolution stated the road and police services provided by the city are comprehensive and fully adequate to satisfy the needs of the city and its residents and they intend to continue with those services. The council also withdrew the jail contract they had approved earlier this month with the Upson County Sheriff’s Department to house city inmates. City Attorney Joel Bentley stated there are certain issues that have arisen since the contract was approved and they need to be addressed before it can be signed by the Sheriff.

On the same day, the Upson County Board of Commissioners released a statement announcing they consider the Joint Project agreement of service deliveries to be null and void, due to the Supreme Court’s decision that the judicial arbitration part of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) is unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

The city has also made three open records requests with the county. The first was for all documents of any patrol services or criminal investigations provided by the Upson County Sheriff’s Department for both the city and unincorporated areas, including calls, tickets written, dispatches, patrol zones or activity zones, number of employees and budgets from 2007 through 2013 year to date.

The second was for all documents of street repair, construction, paving, sidewalks, right of way maintenance, mowing, curb and gutter repair and any other road maintenance provided by or funded by Upson County for both the incorporated and unincorporated areas from 2007 through 2013 year to date.

The final request was for any correspondence (in any form)of written communications and documents sent or received on or after October 7, 2013 through the date of the request by any Upson County elected official, and/or county employee to or from: the Georgia Attorney General or anyone in his office; the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or anyone employed or acting on behalf of that office; the Executive Director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and anyone employed or acting on behalf of the ACCG; Wayne Driver (who serves as the county’s auditor) and/or any other document relating or referring to the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).

After all the requests were made, The English Law Group, who serves as Upson County’s attorneys, sent a letter on October 23 that given the voluminous nature of the request, additional time will be needed to procure all the documents. Additionally, the cost associated with the search, retrieval and copying of the records is likely to exceed $3,000, which will need to be prepaid to the county before the search is to begin. The letter also noted all request made about the Upson County Sheriff’s Department, except for those about the budgets, are not kept or stored by the county. If the city wishes to still have those records, an open records request will have to be made with the Sheriff’s Office. It was unknown as of press time if the city had paid for the search or not.