Board hears budget requests from offices

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County’s constitutional office holders pitched their budget needs to the Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter reiterated his concerns that the budget doesn’t address a disparity in the pay for his office’s employees. Carter expressed the same concerns last year and told the board that pay disparity remains the No. 1 issue for his office.

The agency continues to lose officers to departments in other localities for better pay and benefits, Carter said. Supervisors need to work on a plan to determine the worth of his officers beyond the uniforms and equipment to include their law enforcement and public safety skills, he added.

“I could go on and on about the risks these people take every day,” Carter said.

The sheriff pushed for the county to change the pay system for his officers. While the State Compensation Board plans to provide a 3 percent raise for sheriff’s offices, Carter said this is misleading. Not all of Carter’s deputies are paid solely by the state; the county covers some salaries of his officers.

Carter asked for funds to cover holiday pay for his employees. The sheriff pointed out that a portion of money paid by the county for its share of the cost to run the Rappahannaock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail goes to cover holiday pay for that facility’s employees. The county should extend this benefit to all public safety employees – deputies as well as fire and rescue workers.

The sheriff asked the board to remove from its fiscal 2018 budget deliberations the proposed new headquarters given that the $7 million project skews the numbers. Carter added that he doesn’t want the project to distract from the rest of the budget even though he intends to use asset forfeiture funds to offset the cost of the facility.

Circuit Court Clerk Sarona Irvin asked for more money in the county’s budget to cover the cost to hire more employees. The State Compensation Board estimates that her office needs roughly two more full-time employees. The Compensation Board covers salaries for the clerk and six full-time positions. The county supplements the positions and fully covers salaries for three full-time employees.

Irvin’s proposed budget reflects no increase in funding from the Compensation Board, an increase in local money to add two  full-time workers and reduces the number of part-time workers.

At least 54 of the 117 Compensation Board-funded circuit courts receive local money to supplement budgets. The Board of Supervisors eliminated one locally funded, full-time position as a result of state budget cuts. Circuit Court staff worked approximately 1,800 comp-time hours in calendar year 2016 that accumulated after closing.

The court will generate more than $5 million in revenue for the county by the end of this fiscal year, Irvin said. The clerk pointed out that even if the county allocates money to fund the two positions, the office still brings in roughly $200,000 in revenue.

Part of the increasing workload comes from grand jury indictments, Irvin said. In some instances, a case might involve multiple indictments, causing a lot of work for her deputy clerks. However, in some cases, prosecutors seek to drop most of the indictments that could have generated more money through fees and costs for the office.

Irvin’s budget request also includes funds to improve security in the office as well as to upgrade the audio/visual equipment in the courtroom.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley requested funds to increase a part-time position to full time.

Commissioner of the Revenue Kathy Black didn’t request any new money in next year’s budget. Black has kept spending flat over the past few cycles.

“We’re trying to maintain the status quo and keep doing what we’re doing with what we have,” Black said.

Treasurer Cindy George requested an increase in her budget of $266. Price’s proposed budget includes a net increase in the office’s spending of $24,086 that reflects additional compensation for staff. The Compensation Board states that her office needs almost three additional employees, George said. She is not asking for funds to increase staff.

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

An earlier version of this story should have stated that Treasurer Cindy George requested an increase in her budget of $266 and the proposal by County Administrator Mary T. Price includes an additional $24,086 to cover staff compensation.