The Altha Town Council voted 3-2 last week to close the Altha Police Department. However, Mayor Wes Johnston is awaiting confirmation from the Council’s attorney, Matt Fuqua, to determine if the decision is legal.
Councilman Derek Creamer made the motion to end the police department, it was seconded by Joe Amoson and carried with an affirmative vote by Tammy Gable. Councilmen Rick Watson and Lee Alday opposed the motion.
Mayor Johnston tells The County Record his interpretation of the Town of Altha charter would require a vote by the citizens to end the police department.
According to Mayor Johnston, the Altha Police Department budget is $60,000, which includes salary for Police Chief Jimmy Baggett, insurance, patrol car expenses and other related costs. With the police department closed, Johnston says the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office would provide all law enforcement coverage to the Town of Altha.
Back in February, Creamer complained that Chief Baggett also worked a full time state job and stated, “We might as well turn it over to the Sheriff's Department. He’s not here most of the time and we're not getting our money's worth of hard working, taxpaying citizens’ dollars.”