After a contentious week in which the Loudoun Board of Supervisors scrutinized the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department budget because of a $2.7 million, the board agreed to cover most of the shortage to make sure deputies were paid.
Then they read an opinion piece Sheriff Mike Chapman wrote and changed their minds, at least until county budget officer Ben Mays provides an analysis of the sheriff’s budget. Several supervisors made comments that they would not allow law enforcement officers to go unpaid, but they also expressed concerns about the sheriff’s article.
“The fact of it is we do need to do an additional appropriation, whether we’re happy with the situation or comfortable or whatever,” said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) “We still need to make sure our law enforcement personnel are getting their paychecks as we get toward the end of the fiscal year.”
Those comments came just before several supervisors first became aware of the opinion piece, which Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) asked the sheriff about.
“I thought it was important for the county at large to understand the complexities involved with the way the budget is designed and determined,” Chapman said in response, adding that he wanted to show residents “what difficulties we face in trying to make our budget work.”
When asked why the potential shortfalls were not brought to the board's attention earlier, Chapman said there was a lapse in communication that he intends to rectify.
“Obviously, there was a breakdown in there,” Chapman said.
At that point, the board voted 5-2-2 to give appropriate $1.9 million to the LCSO, with York and Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) voting against it. The department planned to adjust its budget to cover the remaining $800,000.
Then several supervisors read the sheriff’s article. At the end of the meeting, Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) asked for reconsideration of the previous vote and then requested more information. A vote on the additional funding was delayed until Mays can provide his analysis. The board voted 6-2-1 to reconsider and then table the item, with Supervisors Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) and Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) voting against. Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) was absent for the vote.
Letourneau had said before the initial vote and reconsideration that he believed the board would ultimately provide the money to make sure officers' pay was not impacted.
The supervisors’ hard stand on the sheriff’s budget comes not only after a year when two presidential candidates and their wives each paid visits to the county, but also after a rash of criminal and other law enforcement activities, including shootings in eastern and western Loudoun, including most recently a Sterling teenager who was killed after entering a neighbor’s home.