Board turns down sheriff

-A A +A

Was seeking grant for 3 SROs

By John Barnhart

    Last week’s supervisors’ meeting began with John Briscoe asking them, during the citizen comment period at the meeting’s beginning, to avoid doing anything that is not revenue neutral.
    Briscoe’s comments were in reference to a request from Sheriff Mike Brown to apply for a federal grant to pay for three school resource officers (SRO) for the county’s elementary schools. Briscoe said that grants like this can increase both the size of the budget and the size of the county’s government.
    During the budget development process, Sheriff Brown had requested 16 SROs, enough to put one at every elementary school in the county, at a cost of $850,000. The supervisors did not include this request in the budget.
    The grant request, presented by Robin Sundquist, the sheriff’s administrative assistant, was for permission to apply for a $464,000 federal grant to pay for three SROs.
    “We figured a way to use three SROs,” Sundquist said. “This is the minimum that can do the job.”
    Sundquist said the grant would pay for the SROs for three years. The county would be obligated to keep the three SROs for an additional year.

    She also said that this does not include the cost of vehicles for them.
    “I’ve always had a problem with grants because they look good up front but in the fourth year, they’re all on our backs,” said District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek.
    Cheek moved to deny the request. His motion passed 6-0. District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin was absent.
    In other business, the supervisors approved, on a 6-0 vote, a number of supplemental appropriations, and a category transfer request, for the school division, on  a 6-0 vote.
    The supplemental appropriations were for money that came to the school division. The school division can’t spend the money until the supervisors appropriate it. These consisted of a $234,000 federal Title I grant, a $122,000 Federal Teaching American History grant, a $67,000 federal 21st Century grant, a $241,000 Title IV grant and $105,000 in unspent federal stimulus money.
    One supplemental appropriation was for $266,000 from the city because the city’s portion of the school division’s student population, this year, was higher than originally anticipated. The school contract between the city and county for education services requires the city to pay a portion of the school budget based on the percentage of the school population that consists of city residents. There were also $64,000 in fees generated by the school division’s driver’s ed program, an $85,000 reimbursement from Central Virginia Community College’s early college program and a $38,000 insurance payment for a school bus that was damaged beyond repair.
    The supervisors voted 6-0 to transfer the Woodhaven Road revenue sharing project to the town of Bedford. According to County Administrator Mark Reeter, it will be more efficient, and will provide cost savings, for the town, which will be realigning Old Country Road’s intersection with U. S. 460 as part of the Harmony project to also manage the Woodhaven Road portion. The county will still be financially responsible for the project.
    The supervisors voted 6-0 to initiate a proposed amendment to the county zoning ordinance to add “Commercial Outdoor Entertainment” as a use by right in Agricultural/Rural Preserve (AP) zones. According to Reeter, the need for this arose because the new owner of the New London Airport and Drag Strip wants to add an additional drag strip that will parallel the existing airport runway, which is also used as a drag strip.
    “This [the New London Drag Strip] has been there since 1957,” Reeter said.
    The AP zone was established by the zoning ordinance that was adopted in 1998. The airport and drag strip is grandfathered, as a non-conforming use. This allows expansions of less than 50 percent for a non-conforming use, but adding the additional drag strip amounts to more than a 50 percent expansion.
    “Entertainment is something that occurs at every football field every Friday night,” commented District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson. “This [the airport and drag strip] is a basic landmark for Bedford County.”