George Co. Sheriff, supervisor work on truce after budget battle

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The war of words between two George County leaders over budget woes may soon be coming to an end.

Sheriff Dean Howell went over budget this fiscal year. After several warnings, county supervisors put strict limits on overtime. That is when the president of the board and sheriff began butting heads.

Sheriff Dean Howell and Board of Supervisors President Kelly Wright have been at odds this year over money. Wright said the sheriff's department exceeded its already $1.1 million limit after being advised that the account was getting empty.

"It was like $115,000 over budget," Wright said.

So, the board crackdown on the department's spending.

"We cut overtime," Wright said.

That move sparked a war of words between the two. In a letter to a local paper, Howell said he almost felt under attack. He also said the money reportedly helped pay personnel, fuel costs, and deputies working overtime to combat crime and keep citizens safe. But Supervisor Wright was not buying it.

"I think like 30 percent was going into clerical offices. Nobody is picking on the sheriff. We have documentation to back up what we are doing," Wright said.

The sheriff said there have been some differences between him and the board in the past, but he is ready to move forward, work with the board, service the citizens of George County, and the get budget in check. Wright said that is good news and he has seen some changes.

"We had a meeting with all the supervisors, the attorneys and the sheriff's department. We had a third party come in and he listened to both sides. Once he heard both sides, then he put some options out there and I think got the sheriff's attention. He [Sheriff Howell] started working toward meeting those options," Wright said.

But will these leaders continue to seek common ground?

"We have a couple of months left to see and see what happens. Maybe when we start the new fiscal year, he will be on track and have a better year next year."

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