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Commission approves grant applications
Sheriffs office, Dial-A-Ride among possible beneficiaries
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted to apply for several grants at Tuesday’s work session, some of which seek a financial commitment, or match, of county funds and others that are fully funded by the grants themselves.

Commissioners approved a request by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office to apply for a federal hiring recovery grant, which could help fund entry-level salaries and benefits for positions frozen or removed from the department’s 2009 budget.

The grant is a product of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For the sheriff’s office, that means the federal assistance program could cover $4.6 million worth of funding for 46 deputies if the county agrees to provide a $2.5 million match over three years.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas voiced some concern about how the county might cover the tab, but said the match would come out of the county’s contingency fund if approved.

“I don’t think we can pay for it,” Thomas said. “We’re going to have to assume we would have a rise in revenues to cover this. I can’t tell you that today, and I don’t really think it’s going to happen in the next year.”

Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton told the board he was cautious about the grant as well.

“The carrot is dangled from Washington that ‘we’re going to give you all this money to pay for law enforcement,’” Paxton said, adding that associated costs for the purchase and upkeep of vehicles could increase the county’s financial contribution.

“We’re caught in a situation where the money’s being offered ... if we don’t at least try to take advantage of some of it, it’s going to go somewhere else,” he said.

The county does have the ability to turn down the grant after approval if it is determined that associated costs cannot be covered.

Another grant the board approved seeking for the sheriff’s office could provide $300,000 for the purchase of electronic ticketing equipment.

Deputies working in the field would benefit from the software, which streamlines the data entry process for issuing traffic citations.
No county match of funds is required.

Also sought was a three-part grant benefiting the Forsyth County sheriff’s office, which could beef up the inmate tracking system inside the detention center and courthouse.

The other two components of the $79,962 grant, which requires no county match, are a notification system for victims and witnesses of crimes when inmates are released and a software update for the sheriff’s office Cyber Crimes Unit.

The sheriff’s office wasn’t the only one to be considered for financial assistance Tuesday. Commissioners also gave the go-ahead to apply for funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation for a transit vehicle shelter for Dial-A-Ride vans, which could provide $70,000 to build a shelter for the vehicles. It requires no match of county funds.

The preservation of county record books was next on the grant application list. The National Endowment for the Humanities seeks to help institutions preserve court deed books and records.

Some Forsyth County record books date back to 1832 and are beginning to deteriorate. If awarded to the county, the $6,000 grant, which does not require a match, will go toward rebinding and preserving the books.

Chairman Charles Laughing-house was absent; the remaining board members voted unanimously to apply for all of the grants.

E-mail Frank Reddy at