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Posted October 9, 2012 | comments 10 Comments

Board eyes sheriff's funds for regional jail

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK - Shenandoah County could use money by the sheriff's office through drug busts and other operations to help pay for the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail, a supervisor posed Tuesday.

Such use would likely undermine the law enforcement agency's efforts to raise money for a new building, Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said later that day. Supervisors have known for years his agency has faced space needs, Carter added.

Chairman Conrad Helsley's suggestion at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors' meeting appeared to take the sheriff by surprise. Carter told members he only just learned about the idea.

Helsely brought up the proposal as supervisors discussed the sheriff's request to appropriate $264,044 of the $3.6 million from various federal agencies received by the county through law enforcement efforts. Carter sought to use the money to buy items such as replacement cruisers, video cameras and computers not funded in the current budget by local revenue.

Helsley and Supervisor David Ferguson tried to get Carter to respond on whether or not he supported the idea of using most of the funds to help pay for the jail.

"I'm walking in here and you're just dropping this on me here at this meeting without any discussion at all, not to talk about the operational needs of the sheriff's office, not to talk about the staffing needs of the sheriff's office, not to talk about the facility needs of the sheriff's office," Carter said.

Ferguson, who voted against Carter's request, asked whether such funds could help pay for staff salaries and other needs, to which the sheriff said yes, but for a period of time. However, Ferguson also questioned whether that would count as supplanting and not allowed under the federal program rules.

"I need to know I can use those dollars when we're doing our budget," Ferguson said.

Ferguson made comments that Carter has not used the asset forfeiture proceeds to offset a sheriff's office budget the supervisor claimed continues to increase. Helsely, while expressing support for the request, cited Ferguson's comments about using the proceeds.

"I think, as Mr. Ferguson mentioned, one of the best things that we could possibly do would be to take like $3 million of that money and put it toward paying the capital project of the regional jail over in Front Royal, and the reason for that is the very people who are going to be in that facility, you will have their assets to help pay for that," Helsley said. "Not being real sure whether that was allowed or not, we made a call to the feds and they basically said, yes, send us a letter signed by the sheriff and also by the Board of Supervisors and that's basically what we need."

The regional jail on U.S. 340-522 in Warren County is under construction. Shenandoah County will have to pay a percentage of the debt on nearly $80 million in loans used to build the facility. Carter, a member of the jail authority by statute, has opposed the project based on its cost to Shenandoah County residents.

Helsley said it appears to be a "win-win" situation for taxpayers.

Carter noted, "We need things just to operate year to year ... and you're telling me that you would want basically [to] take those funds from just the day-to-day operations of trying to protect the people in this county."

At the end of the discussion, Helsley told the board members they likely could revisit the issue at their night meeting on Oct. 23.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

10 Comments | Leave a comment

    This is what Carter gets for not blindly supporting the un-needed regional jail. Sadly, the people of ShenCo will suffer at the hands of the BoS. Remember in November (2013).

      Remember this in election time-you are right Rusty, but let's take a look at what the voters have done.....seats up for re-election in 2013 include Neese (New Market) since 2001, Morris (Toms Brook) off & on since 1975, Baroncelli (Woodstock) since 2005 and in 2015 - Baker (Mt. Jackson) since 2007, Ferguson (Edinburg/Ft Valley) since 2004 and Helsley (Strasburg) since 2005. It sure doesn't look like Shenandoah County is in favor of term limitations does it?

    What an interesting turn of events. Its mighty funny how the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors act when they want something from the Sheriffs Office. I also find it very interesting how every year the Sheriff gives back unused funds to the county only to be turned down time and time again when he has a request. This practice has continued for countless years and even goes back when Sheriff Green was in office. Sheriff Carter, I commend you for your stance on the Regional Jail. I also think the Sheriffs Office has always been labeled as the black sheep compared to other county government agencies.The Sheriffs Office nor its deputies have never been treated as equals and they are the ones that sacrifice so much. I wish you the best Sheriff Carter dealing with how County Government operates. Oh yea thats right, No one got a vote on the Regional Jail project so I would assume this will turn out the same.

    The funds the Board of Supervisors wants to strip away from the Sherriffs Department to cover up there mistake of going through with the jail project should be criminal. You spend taxpayers money like water runs out of a faucet, down the drain! Let the Sherriffs department keep these funds to upgrade and replace the patrol cars and for extra Deputies and oh how about some extra training since they have such a large area to cover.

    Helsley and Supervisor David Ferguson tried to get Carter to respond on whether or not he supported the idea of using most of the funds to help pay for the jail.
    "I'm walking in here and you're just dropping this on me here at this meeting without any discussion at all, . . . "

    LOOKS LIKE the sheriff CAN'T make a decision without thinking about it for awhile. Good thing he has lots of time for other decisions.
    What if there was an emergency? What would he do then? Ponder for a while before deciding? Can't he think on his feet? A simple YES or NO saying what he thought about the idea is all they were asking.

      Sheriff Carter has done an outstanding job at working with what he has! This Board of Supervisors does a very poor job of listening to the voters and no professional walks into a meeting with all the figureds on the top of their head when they have no advance warning that it would be a topic. The Board of Supervisors knew they would be bringing this up since they already checked with the powers that be to see how the funds could be spent. Professional courtesy dictates that they would have let the Sheriff know they would be asking him about the subject too. My trust lies with Carter. Did you know that the County has the name number of patrol officers as the town of Strasburg? Can you name any situations that have taken place in Shenandoah County since Carter has been in office that have not been taken care of in a professional manner?

    The asset forfeiture account is to be used by the Sheriff's Office as a supplement to the budget. The Sheriff and his department put their lives on the line everyday to keep drugs and criminials off the streets. Any money or assests the Sheriff's office is fortunate enough to gain from these arrests is to be used for the continued protection of the citizens in Shenandoah County. NOT TO BUILD A LUXURY JAIL! Are the board of supervisors telling us they need revenue to pay for this new jail? Did they not plan for these expenditures?

    I normally don't comment on this forum but I feel that I should on this issue. The asset forfeiture money that the Sheriff has should be used to supplement the needs of the Sheriff's Office. For as long as I can remember the Board of Supervisors has NEVER supported the Sheriff's Office. Its funny that in the same meeting that the Fire and Rescue Department is applauded for having "floater positions" in the County.....what floater positions? Yes the Fire and Rescue Department has hired so many people that they are not assigned to a station...so they just call them floaters. These county employees just "float" around the county with no set objectives. Now isn't that an interesting idea...here is the Sheriff asking for cars so his Deputies have reliable transportation to cover the county and Fire and Rescue has floaters. I think that the Board of Supervisors need to realign their priorities. And as far as Johns comments....yes Sheriff Carter can make decisions and I think he made the right decision by not giving the BOS an answer. Why should he? What have they ever done for him or his agency? This is the BOS trying to be a big bully and pressure him into a decision....Good Job Sheriff Carter!!! And one final thing that amazes me...where are the other supervisors during all of this? Seems like Helsley and Ferguson are bullying their counterparts to get their way...wake up people before its too late. Thank you to the Sheriff and his staff for an amazing job that you do every day for the citizens of this County...at least someone is watching out for us..because the BOS sure isn't.

    Y'all need to chill out -When I read this story only thing I thought of , was go buy A armored car . Since I need to suplement my income to pay my taxes and Shen Cty cars will be so old , and they won't have enough staff to run back and forth to the new jail , I can do the taxi cab thing

    Why don't ALL parties WAIT until the study is done and finished?
    After all, new replacement cruisers and some computers MAY NOT BE NEEDED after the study is done if there will be a decrease in staff.
    Also, transportation of prisoners will be DONE by the RSW jail staff and NOT THE COUNTY, according to the mentioned story. (The county advised firms responding to the request that adult detention responsibilities would transfer from the sheriff's office to the regional jail authority once the new facility opens after its completion, which is set for July 1, 2014.)
    YET, two schools, Indian Hollow Elementary in Frederick County and W.W. Robinson Elementary in Shenandoah County, have been classified as focus schools and each will need to hire a coach to help improve student performance.
    Looks like money is needed for schools if for anything.

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