Wythe County Sheriff, Board at odds over funding

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) The Wythe County Sheriff's Office is running out of money, and the Sheriff said he's not getting any help from the county government.

For many years, the Wythe County Sheriff's Office has had an agreement with the county regarding the fine money from tickets written on Interstates 81 and 77.

Sheriff Keith Dunagan explained, "We write the tickets, we get 80% put into the Police Activity Fund and the County gets 20%."

That Police Activity Fund is used for special programs like new cars or equipment.

Until 2010, the county also gave funding from the General Fund, but not anymore.

"They paid about $350,000 - $375,000 last year in benefits last year for our employees," the Sheriff said. "But at the same time, we put $300,000 in the General Fund which was their 20%."

The Sheriff said the County Board of Supervisors cited an agreement with the previous Sheriff, who denied any such deal, that said all Sheriff funding would come from the Office's portion of fine money.

"In 2010, everything that the county used to pay for started coming out of the Police Activity Fund and because of that, the Police Activity Fund has gone down every year since 2010," Sheriff Dunagan said.

The County declined to comment on this situation.

But with only a few hundred thousand dollars left, that fund will dry up very soon. When it does, the Sheriff said he will lose officers and services.

"We pay a lot of personnel out of there, we pay for our school resource officers, we pay for about a half dozen additional deputies and patrol division, we pay grants, D.A.R.E., you know there's a lot of stuff that comes out of that," he explained.

The Sheriff said he's been asked to meet with the County Administrator to resolve this budget issue and bring a solution to the Board of Supervisors. He said he's hopeful and optimistic that will happen.

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