- Last Updated on 07:48 AM 03/02/11
- BY Sonny Riddle
The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and Halifax County Public Schools are bracing for job cuts in the wake of Virginia’s two-year $32 billion budget approved over the weekend by the Virginia General Assembly.
The budget has been sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his approval.
“If it (the budget) stands, we will lose one deputy position from the state unless the county picks it up, or the governor does something different,” said Sheriff Stanley Noblin.
The sheriff said his office lost two deputy positions last year due to budget cuts.
“Right now we have three deputies on duty with the National Guard,” he said. “That would put us down six deputies if we lose one this year.”
Noblin said the state budget leaves a $6 million hole in sheriff’s office funding statewide.
“We would lose that position if we cannot find a way to work it out,” he explained. “We’ll have to do what we have to do.”
Likewise, school officials are waiting for the final tally from the Virginia Department of Education, but according to Chief Financial Officer Bill Covington, the shortfall in state funding could mean the loss of jobs in the county’s schools.
“It’s hard to know right now,” Covington said. “We haven’t gotten the numbers for Halifax County, but all I know is we’re probably looking at a best case scenario of a $1.5 million budget shortfall.”
Covington said some of that shortfall would be in reduced state revenue and some would be in the form of higher costs.
The state department is examining the total amount of funding for K-12 education statewide and breaking it down to determine funding for the state’s school systems.
“The department of education gets the facts and details and then breaks it out into the 133 localities,” he explained. “They will post it on their website; it could be anytime.”
The state budget approved by the General Assembly keeps the 50-percent “hold harmless” payment to schools. That would have meant a decrease in funds under an adjustment to the composite index that determines state aid to localities.
“It sounds like there’s some ‘hold harmless’ money in there, but I don’t know how much it will be for Halifax County,” Covington said.
After the school officials receive the budget figures from the state, Covington said they would look closely at ways to cut spending.
“The school board will have to look at everything,” he said. “We have the retirement incentive plan, but we ultimately may have to lay off some employees.”
The school board has scheduled a budget work session for 6 p.m. Monday in the school board conference room on the first floor of the Mary Bethune Office Complex.
“We should have the true numbers by that meeting, and we’ll see where to go from there,” Covington said.
“We will have fewer positions next year,” he added. “Some will be from retirement and some possibly from layoffs.”
Addressing the state budget in his newsletter, Senator Frank Ruff said, “We tried to balance the needs of the people with the revenues available.
“We focused on education, public safety, mental health and the needs of hospitals and nursing homes, understanding that not doing those would either force local government to raise taxes or place Virginians at risk,” Ruff said. “We did not raise taxes nor did we allow any earmarks for non-state entities.”