Sheriff: County can pay for new headquarters

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County now has enough federal money to build a new sheriff’s office headquarters – barely.

Treasurer Cindy George confirmed Thursday that the county received $2.84 million from the U.S. Marshals Service, Asset Forfeiture Division, on Aug. 24. The Sheriff’s Office receives such funds through its collaborative investigations with federal law enforcement agencies.

The recent award brings the total available through asset forfeiture to a little more than $6 million.

Representatives with architects Grimm and Parker presented its Sheriff’s Office Complex Feasibility Study to the Board of Supervisors early last month. The consultants advised that they, along with county officials, worked on designs in an effort to reduce the estimated cost of a new headquarters on North Main Street from $9.69 million-$10.93 million to close to $8 million. At the time, the county had slightly more than $3 million in asset forfeiture funds.

County officials and the architects continue to meet and work to find ways to scale back the cost further.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter confirmed Thursday by email that the estimated cost comes close to the amount available through asset forfeiture.

“I think the core building that we are scheduled to bring to the (Board of Supervisors) will be within range now,” Carter stated.

Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass said Thursday that the estimated cost of the project remained closer to $8 million as presented by the architects at the last meeting.

The fiscal 2017 budget includes $957,000 in asset forfeiture funds earmarked for sheriff’s offices expenses, county Finance Director Mandy Belyea stated in an email Thursday. The amount includes $528,000 for architectural and engineering services for the sheriff’s office complex project.

Even with a cache of $6 million, the sheriff has plans to spend some of that amount on other needs such as salaries for school resource officers and new equipment. Carter said he would maintain his agency’s commitments and spend asset forfeiture money on those needs.

“However, at some point this and future (supervisors) would have to fulfill their basic responsibility and obligation to protect the public by funding law enforcement services through general county revenue that have been funded by asset forfeiture during the last 4 years,” Carter stated. “These essential government services are a responsibility of the (supervisors.) Asset forfeiture funds are required to be used to supplement county funds, not in place of county funding.”

Carter, county officials and architects plan to update supervisors at the board’s work session in early October.

Carter noted that he made a commitment at the last supervisors’ meeting to bring back a core, law enforcement facility proposal with a reduced footprint that the board could modify or add program areas when the board deems them feasible.

“Now we have an opportunity to build a contemporary county law enforcement core facility with minimal or no burden to the citizens of Shenandoah County,” Carter stated.

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