County OK’s deal for police in Stockbridge

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Commissioners quietly adopted an agreement for continued police services in Stockbridge at its Dec. 1 regular meeting.

The issue was not on the original meeting agenda but was added at the beginning of the meeting and addressed toward the end. Approval of the board was unanimous.

The Stockbridge City Council has yet to formally consider the agreement in a public meeting. The council has rarely addressed the issue at all in public over the past several months amid all of the other controversy at City Hall, although the commissioners have addressed it a few times in their meetings during a lengthy and contentious negotiation period between the city and the county.

“The city has not approved the recent proposal from the county,” Stockbridge city manager Michael Harris wrote in response to an email inquiry from the Times. “The city is in the process of reviewing the proposal and will respond at the appropriate time.”

According to the terms of the proposed new agreement, which begins Jan. 1 and expires at the end of 2021, the county will create a special service district consisting of the unincorporated area of Henry County and the incorporated area of Stock-bridge. (Hampton, Locust Grove and McDonough have their own police departments.)

While providing the same level of police service in Stockbridge as within the unincorporated area, the county will also provide two full-time officers around the clock with all necessary equipment to operate solely within the city.

The county will collect ad valorem taxes within Stockbridge at the millage rate as the unincorporated county for police services. Also, the city will pay and “additional payment” of $743,000 to the county in four equal quarterly installments beginning April 1, 2016. That figure will increase four percent each year.

The city can purchase additional police services from the county at actual cost as determined by the county.

All citations given in the city for violation of state traffic laws and city ordinances will be handled by the Stockbridge Municipal Court. The city will keep all revenue from city ordinance fines and pay the county 40 percent of all fines generated from state law violations. The city will also pay all expenses for processing court cases including overtime pay for county police officers who appear in Municipal Court.