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Virginia sheriffs applauded Gov. Bob McDonnell’s recent action to address the public safety shortfall in the state sheriffs’ budget by proposing an amendment to the General Assembly to provide an additional $6.5 million.
Earlier this month, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association was concerned that 376 deputy sheriffs would have to be laid off in the proposed budget.
There was a $13.4 million shortfall in the year beginning July 1, 2011. McDonnell addressed the concern by submitting an amendment for $6.5 million.
The deficit had caused concern for local sheriffs.
Grayson Sheriff Richard Vaughan — who serves as the Region I board of directors representative for the sheriffs' association — said the budget cuts and resulting layoffs would have been detrimental to public safety.
“Grayson County citizens have been taxed enough and we cannot sit back and allow the state to decrease our funding,” Vaughan said earlier this month.
Carroll County Sheriff Warren Manning, reacting to the proposal said his department was faced with the possibility of losing three deputies last year, but managed to keep them by using proceeds from traffic fines.
This year, had the funding not been restored, the loss would have amounted to two positions, he said.
Sheriff Ryant Washington, president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and sheriff of Fluvanna County, said the group's members “applaud the governor’s commitment to pubic safety in Virginia and appreciate the additional funding through an executive amendment.”
John W. Jones, executive director of the association, said the governor’s action demonstrates his willingness to keep a campaign promise to restore cuts to the sheriffs’ budgets.
Even with the governor's budget amendment, there still remains a $6.9 million shortfall in the sheriffs' budget.
A sheriffs' association press release says there will be “ample opportunities to address the balance of the shortfall in the coming days of the General Assembly and during the reconvened session next spring.”
The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association also is asking concerned citizens to urge their General Assembly representatives to reject a proposed 5 percent retirement pay option that, according to Vaughan, would reduce some deputies salaries to “near the poverty level.”