Sheriff’s Office complex taken out of budget picture

Timothy C. Carter

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County leaders likely won’t include the new sheriff’s office headquarters in next year’s budget until they get a clearer cost estimate.

The Board of Supervisors decided at a work session on the fiscal 2017 budget Tuesday to take out the $6 million estimate for the facility from the total for capital projects. Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass told the board that Grimm and Parker Architects has until April 1 to return with a site, conceptual design and cost estimate.

“We have to look at that to know what the next step is,” Carter said. “When we get the study back, I imagine there will be some dollar figure attached to that study, which may or may not be what we’ve estimated in our plan. Probably won’t be.”

However, the board has until March 25 to decide on what tax rates and fiscal 2017 budget the county should advertise for a public hearing.

Chairman Conrad Helsley said the county can re-advertise a budget with the sheriff’s office complex cost if the board omits the amount in the first proposal. The county would need to hold another public hearing with the project figure if the amount equals more than 1 percent of the budget, Vass said.

“I don’t want to diminish the fact that the conditions that the staff work under are incredible,” Carter said.

The county has used the $6 million estimate for the project, $600,000 of which would go toward the preliminary design work and construction engineering costs. The current budget includes $600,000 and the county has spent approximately $72,000 toward the project.

Once the architectural firm presents the information to officials, the board can determine if and when the county could move forward on the project. This likely would depend on whether or not the county could afford to move forward.

Carter has said he would use funds from asset forfeiture. The sheriff’s office has about $3 million from this source of revenue. The sheriff’s office receives funds, seized from defendants in criminal cases, when it participates in operations federal law enforcement agencies.

However, the asset forfeiture program recently was suspended, leaving in limbo any revenue stream for the complex or any other projects or spending needs reliant on the money.

The board included the sheriff’s office complex as part of its discussion of the agency’s capital needs in the fiscal 2017 budget. The sheriff’s office also asked for money to replace vehicles as well as to upgrade in-car cameras and the agency’s records management system. The needs are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Major Scott Proctor told the board the new vehicles would replace those that office has used for the past six to nine years and have at least 150,000 miles. The digital cameras used in vehicles also are nearing the end of their lifespan, Carter and Proctor explained. The agency is trying to marry up the car cameras with the body cameras.

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