In July, Sheriff Marty Elliott reported to the Fiscal Court that despite a dramatic increase in crime the county had the same number of road deputies that it had in 1985. Under the 2013 calendar year budget, the Fiscal Court will continue funding nine full-time sheriff’s deputy positions.
Magistrate Phil Sammons, who had expressed concern in July about the department’s overtime numbers, initially disagreed with Elliott’s proposal. The sheriff’s department collects a variety of fees through numerous sources, including automobile inspections, state mileage reimbursements, and transporting inmates.
Generally, the sheriff’s department releases such funds to the Fiscal Court at the end of each calendar year.
“Indirectly, we’re paying for it because that’s money we’re not going to receive,” Sammons said. “It also seems like every two to three months we’re buying you another vehicle.”
Elliott pointed out that the county had directly paid for only one department vehicle in the last two years. Another vehicle was purchased through funds procured from drug seizures.
“I’m not trying to give you a hard time,” Sammons said.
Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said he and the sheriff are striving to have the county’s contribution to the budget “contained” without jeopardizing Elliott’s ability to serve Boyle residents.
“We’re trying to be very conservative,” Elliott said.
In other business:
- Magistrates briefly discussed the issue of public prayer during meetings. Earlier this month, the Fiscal Court decided to discontinue the opening prayer at its meetings due to the threat of a lawsuit from a resident who said the U.S. Constitution mandates that church and state should be separated. A week later, Danville City Commission decided to keep prayer in its meetings.
Right before Tuesday’s meeting, Sammons led an optional prayer. During the meeting itself, McKinney called for a “moment of silence to contemplate whatever is in your heart.”
Numerous residents have asked magistrates publicly and privately to bring prayer back into the meetings.
“I’m not comfortable with the way we had to change it, but we have to follow the law,” said Magistrate John Caywood. “However, I would like to keep this door open.”
County Attorney Richard Campbell agreed to further research the situation, but for now the Fiscal Court will continue to have only a moment of silence during its public meetings.
- Magistrates lauded Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jennifer Kirchner for the agency’s efforts at “transparency.” Kirchner regularly gives financial and CVB activity reports at Fiscal Court meetings.
Magistrate Jack Hendricks said, “We need that from all (organizations to which) we give money.”
Hendricks and other magistrates also commended McKinney for taking a public stand for open government. Last week, McKinney respectfully walked out of a closed meeting of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership because he believes any agency funded through the taxpayers should follow state open meetings laws.