Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston credits the office’s success to more time spent managing funds and focusing on making the department better, not bigger.
According to documents provided by the Gordon County Finance Department, the Sheriff’s Office had a budget of $5,165,922 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and returned $651,828 to the County’s general fund to be used for this year’s budget. Following the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the office returned $953,482, and for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the first year Ralston was in office, they returned $1,528,614.
The returned funds come from the both the County Jail and Sheriff’s Office budget, which Ralston manages.
“My promise to the people when I came in was to change the image of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Ralston.
Ralston said his first major adjustment to the way the office functions was changing the color scheme of the patrol cars using drug money. The newer white-and-black design makes the cars more visible, he said.
The office also decided to go paperless and now puts all case files on disc instead of using folders and paper for every new case.
This process, in turn, has affected other departments.
“There is a trickle effect to going paperless,” explained Chief Deputy Robert Paris. “When we use discs instead of case files, that work produced is passed through the courts on disc instead of paper.”
Turning administrative positions into enforcement positions has also helped save money.
“We’ve taken people from behind the desk and put them out into the field, including myself and Chief (Paris),” said Ralston.
The Sheriff’s Office’s new facility offers on-site training to employees, something that the office could not offer in its previous location, said Ralston.
“One thing that has really helped us save money is our on-site training,” he said. “We have two training classrooms and an on-site firearms training facility.”
Before, deputies had to travel around the state to receive training or go to the Calhoun City Police Department for firearms training.
In August, a new jail food contract between the Sheriff’s Office and Trinity Foods lowered individual inmate meal prices
The new contract will save the county more than $108,000 over the next three years, explained Ralston.
Ralston said he wants to continue improving and hopes to save taxpayers more in the future.
“I’m not interested in making this department grow at all,” he said. “I’m trying to make the department better.”