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Halifax County sheriff opposed to proposed state cut

Halifax County Sheriff Stanley L. Noblin is adamantly opposed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget proposal that reduces his budget by $49,373 and requires the sheriff along with his staff to absorb 5 percent of their retirement costs provided the county grants a 3 percent salary increase in the coming year.

Under the governor’s proposal, all state employees would contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), the state pension organization.

McDonnell is promising a 3 percent pay raise for state employees and is asking localities to raise the pay of their employees by 3 percent, thus creating a 2 percent net decrease in employees’ take home pay.

Supported in his opposition by the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and other local sheriffs, Noblin said the governor’s plan will ultimately decrease even further the take home pay of the already “under-funded” deputy sheriffs and support staff and reduce the public safety budget for sheriffs by $13.4 million statewide.

“The plan provides a $13.4 million hole in sheriffs’ operating budgets.  If the General Assembly does not fund the $13.4 million deficit, then sheriff’s office budgets will be reduced accordingly, resulting in layoffs of deputy sheriffs and impacting the safety and security of the citizens of our community,” the county sheriff said.

Specifically, the $49,373 state cut in the county sheriff’s budget will result in the loss of two deputy sheriff positions in Halifax County, Noblin said. 

“Note that two deputy sheriff positions were lost last year as a direct result of budgetary cuts.  The department is currently short staffed having lost three deputy sheriffs to military duties and one to the position of resource officer at the local middle school.  It goes without saying that the financial impact could be significant,” the sheriff added.

The proposed state budget also widens a disparity between deputy sheriffs and state law enforcement officers who recently received a 3 percent bonus, Noblin pointed out. 

The sheriff along with The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association are asking concerned citizens to contact their local representatives in the Virginia General Assembly and ask them to reject the 5 percent retirement pay option and to provide the $13.4 million that was not provided in the proposed operating budget. 

“These are serious budget issues that deeply impact every community in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Noblin said requesting Halifax County citizens to join with him in opposing the 5 percent pay option for sheriff’s office staff retirement and rejecting the reduction of the sheriff’s budgets by $13.4 million.

Although the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office has been functioning on a budget equal to that of the 2005 budget and has endured continuous budgetary cuts for the last three years, the demand for services has not decreased, Noblin pointed out. 

“As of Dec. 29, for the year 2010, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office served 17,444 civil process papers and 1,723 criminal warrants, made 1,086 arrests, wrote 1,529 citations for traffic violations and handled 104 traffic accidents,” he added. 

Because of the increased attention that has been given to traffic patrol specifically, Noblin said the number of fatalities in Halifax County has decreased by half over the last three years.

“This as well as other services could be jeopardized if the sheriff’s department continues to endure budgetary cuts,” he concluded.