Controversy continues despite Wythe County providing $600,000 to Sheriff's Office

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WYTHE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) A budget battle continues in Wythe County even after a $600,000 tax money adjustment from the Board of Supervisors.

This action was taken following a request made by the Sheriff on May 24, 2016

But Sheriff Keith Dunagan said there's one big problem.

"It has yet to show up in our budget," he said. "The new budget year started in July."

Even with the extra money, the Sheriff has to pay more than $1.2 million for his budget, which all comes from the Police Activity Fund, which is made up of money from tickets.

Wythe County explained the PAF in a release put out on August 11 saying, "Presently, the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office receives 80 percent of all revenues generated by fines generated by the local ordinance adopted by Wythe County Board of Supervisors in 1992. The revenues deposited in the Police Activity Fund were $1,065,696 which is $249,422 less than the previous year when the deposits were $1,315,188. In addition, to these funds the Sheriff’s office is provided all the revenue generated from other local ordinances. In Fiscal Year 2016, the revenues collected from these ordinances totaled more than $1,200,000 which were all dedicated to the Sheriff’s Department. These do not include the processing fee for inmates. In July 2016 the Sheriff raised the application fee for concealed weapons permit from $15 to $50 which is a 233 percent increase."

On top of paying $1.2 million in a year, there is no money from the county for new cars, an IT person for the Department, or the DARE program. Those would all have to be paid for by the Sheriff.

"Everything might work out, I just don't know right now," Sheriff Dunagan said. "When I looked at our numbers that's not happening yet. They approved it in the board meeting, but I haven't seen it yet."

Another issue between the two sides is a Memorandum of Understanding, an agreement the county wants the Sheriff to sign, but the Sheriff has said, 'No way.'

"I've been advised by an attorney and by the Virginia Sheriff's Association not to sign it," the Sheriff said. "One of the reasons I don't want to sign it is the county prioritizing what we do down here and I think that's not their job, that's what I got elected to do."

The County wants the taxpayer money to go to School Resource Officers, which Sheriff Dunagan agrees with but says there are other big needs too.

The county's release said, "The Board of Supervisors’ actions were to ensure that the top priority in the sheriff’s budget was to employ three fulltime school resource officers and a DARE officer in the county’s public schools. The Board of Supervisors recognizes that the assignment of these officers outside of the school to other duties is at the sole discretion of the sheriff."

The Memorandum also limits overtime for his staff, saying only officers patrolling the Interstate can collect overtime, something that has already caused problems.

Sheriff Dunagan explained, "We got involved in a big case earlier in the week, all of our investigators were having to help out on it. By the end of the week we ended up owing all those guys comp time, so on Friday I didn't have an investigator that could work."

County officials declined to comment beyond the news release as the County Administrator plans to meet with Sheriff Dunagan later this week.

That release concluded saying, "At such a critical time in our nation’s history, the county board of supervisors wish to make it very clear that they appreciate and respect the many sacrifices the brave men and women of our local law enforcement agencies make each day - which is precisely why the Board authorized funding for the school resource officer positions and included in the prepared agreement that the school resource officers were the top priority for funding. The Board is disappointed that these critical positions may become the victim of political gamesmanship when the safety of our children is at stake."