Bryan Co. Commissioners maintain jail funding, Montgomery stepping down as chairman

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- A few years ago Commissioner Monty Montgomery traveled around the county drumming up support for a tax increase for the new jail annex.

He campaigned on the promise of cutting the operating budget if the tax passed.

"We told the people if you vote for this, we will save you money," Montgomery said.

But at Monday's budget meeting, commissioners voted 2-1 to keep funding for the jail budget at the same levels.

"And for that I am embarrassed for the board," Montgomery said. "And I am ashamed that we did not do what we said we would do."

Sheriff Ken Golden said he wants to keep funding the same while they settle in.

"Before we start cutting, let's move into the jail, make sure everything operates the way it's suppose to, to manage the jail properly and securely," he said.

Montgomery said he wanted to use the money they'd save from the jail budget to expand the Sheriff's patrol.

"And I directly asked [Golden] the question would you rather have more staff in the jail, or have more deputies on the street, and a new patrol car," he said.

Golden said that ultimatum isn't fair.

"Any deputy that doesn't want more deputies on the streets would have to be a fool. But at the same time I can't jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Bryan County by cutting the jail staff," he said.

But Montgomery said commissioners still made a promise.

"I'm going to respect the citizens I represent enough to do what I told them I would do back in 2010, before I asked them to support the building of a new jail," he said.

Commissioner Tony Simmons denies that they retracted a promise. He said they didn't set a specific date for when they would reduce the funding.

He wants to reduce the budget in the future, he said.

"I did not promise anybody anything as far as the new jail goes," he said. "We do look forward to taking care of that situation in the next fiscal year."

Montgomery said because of the budget vote, he's stepping down as chairman.

"The chairman should be a leader," he said. "He should know where he's leading to and he should know how to lead. Obviously I failed as a leader."

But Montgomery said he'll continue to fight to reduce the jail budget.

Commissioners will pass a budget for the next fiscal year in June. That budget won't kick in until early November, Montgomery said.

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