Governor: Restore funds

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed an amendment that would restore up to $7.4 million in funding to sheriff’s offices throughout the state.

In Suffolk, that means about $14,000 if the amendment to the General Assembly’s budget passes when the legislative body reconvenes next week.

“As many deputies are the first line of defense at the local level, their continued presence on the streets and staffing jails is critical,” McDonnell said in a letter to General Assembly members.

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Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs Sr. said he learned of the amendment proposal Wednesday. He and other sheriffs throughout the state are in the process of contacting their legislators to ask for support, he said.

“If this amendment doesn’t pass, that’s going to be a shortfall from the state,” he said. “If this amendment comes in and takes care of all that, it would be wonderful.”

The $14,000 loss wouldn’t be enough to cause the loss of any positions in his office, Isaacs said. However, it would have meant even tighter spending on equipment, supplies and similar budget items.

“Every constitutional officer runs a very efficient office,” Isaacs said. “We’d have to cut back on whatever excess we had in the budget.”

Isaacs said he appreciates the recognition from the governor of the importance of sheriff’s offices.

“It’s such a small amount for us,” Isaacs said of the potential cut. “And that’s a good thing. We’re very blessed here. We’re thankful to the governor, and we really appreciate it.”

He added that because constitutional offices are state-funded positions for functions localities would have to perform anyway, the constitutional offices provide “a real benefit to the citizens as far as tax savings.”

Other budget amendments from the governor include creating an optional retirement contribution plan for state employees, eliminating taxpayer funding of public broadcasting, funding overtime for state troopers and providing $2 million to renovate the historic Rotunda at the University of Virginia.