<img class="size-medium wp-image-49991 alignright" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2021\/02\/calculator_money_1614080153-300x200.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="200" \/>By Taylor Boyd\r\n\r\nThe Patrick County Board of Supervisors Budget Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 17 heard several requests for increased funding in the upcoming fiscal year.\r\n\r\nPatrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said his priority is requesting more funds for new police cars.\r\n\r\n\u201cI don\u2019t think I asked for any increases anywhere except we have got to do something about the cars. Last year, we cut about $135,000, and a couple of board meetings ago, you all cut about $4,900 more.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re about $140,000 from last year and this year that we\u2019ve been cut. We\u2019ve got to do something this year,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nSmith said that while the department received two new cars because of COVID-19, more are needed. \u201cWe needed to replace four (cars) last year, and five this year. We need a total of seven cars to replace this year. Now the motor vehicles are the only capital line item that we\u2019ve asked for that money back. Now, that $92,000 we\u2019re asking for back we just put that in there because it was taken last year.\u201d\r\n\r\nSmith said the department is looking into a lease agreement to reduce the amount of money spent each year of replacing vehicles.\r\n\r\n\u201cNow this lease agreement we\u2019ve talked about the first-year planning was $24,000, so it\u2019s probably going to be less than $20,000,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nSmith said the department held an auction of older cars which raised about $20,000.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re going to either have to use that money to buy a car, if we don\u2019t get any money to buy a car this year, or we can use that money to pay the first-year lease payment. So, it would not cost any increase in the budget from last year,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nHe said the department is looking into a 4-year lease for its motor vehicles.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf we can do this 4-year lease, 4-years is a solid time to switch out to get the most value for us and the most value in sell price,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nSmith said there is a possibility to use a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to help yearly as well to offset that cost also.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey pay a certain percentage based on what we match,\u201d he said, and added \u201cthese cars are the most important tools we have in our jobs. We have to have a replacement plan for them. We\u2019ve got to do something this year.\u201d\r\n\r\nSmith noted the call volume has increased about five percent in the past couple of years.\r\n\r\nMickie Martin, Emergency-911 coordinator, who hinted at her potential retirement in January, said funds are needed to help pay for the wireless mapping system.\r\n\r\n\u201cI would like to increase that line to get a support person to help with that,\u201d Martin said, and added she is currently the only person in the department that does addressing in the county. \u201cI assign all the addresses to do the new roads and all that stuff,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nShe said she is trying to teach someone else in the department how to do the mapping \u201cbut this is something that I\u2019ve been doing for 20 years, and it\u2019s going to take a while for her to take it on.\u201d\r\n\r\nSmith said there are 11 dispatchers between the sheriff\u2019s department and the 911 office.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s not enough,\u201d Martin said, and noted state regulations mandate that two dispatchers are needed in the office at all times.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe really need three on duty for about a seven-hour period during the day. Let\u2019s just say you got two emergency medical calls coming in at the same time, you can\u2019t do it. You need a minimum of three people to do both of them, and there\u2019s been many instances where\u2019s that been the case,\u201d Smith said.\r\n\r\nHe noted that half of the dispatchers are paid for by the compensation board.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn 1980 the compensation board took a large role in compensating back then equipment and salaries, but they don\u2019t compensate equipment anymore. They quit that about 25 years ago, but they basically paid for a certain number of deputies and a certain number of dispatchers. So right now, five of our dispatchers are paid for by the state and six are paid for by the county,\u201d Smith said.\r\n\r\nRegistrar Susan Taylor said the additional $30,000 she requested for her department is for help during election time.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf I do not have a full-time person, I\u2019m still going to need somebody coming into the office 30 days prior to an election, so we can get things ready for early voting, 45 days of early voting, and probably 30 days after the election is over with. That is $10,350 per election,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nTaylor said her office is planning for three elections this year.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have the November election, they say there is a possibility for us to have a special election in the first of the year, and then a June primary. We just need to have somebody in there. What has changed significantly for our office is early voting and the mail-in ballots. People can request with no excuse needed and that has increased our workload,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nBecause the new measure took place during a presidential election, Taylor said she went back and compared the cost to previous presidential elections.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn 2008, we had 380 mail-in ballots and 537 in-person voters. In 2020 we had 1,085 mail-in ballots and 2,608 in-person voters, so it changed things significantly for us,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\n\u201cFrom what I heard, I think the early voting and everything was very popular,\u201d Dr. Clyde Deloach, of the Blue Ridge District, said.\r\n\r\nTaylor said she believes it will increase in popularity in the years to come.\r\n\r\n\u201cSome people weren\u2019t even aware that it was taking place. Of course, the pandemic didn\u2019t help anything. So, when you look, we had a little over 9,000 people who voted in the November election and with mail-in voting and in-person voting that was over 3,000 people that voted not in the precents,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nTaylor said she believes the COVID-19 pandemic caused the influx of early voting.\r\n\r\n\u201cA lot of people were afraid to get out, so they chose to do the mail-in ballots,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\n\u201cI would be inclined to support it if the committee could find the money somewhere else,\u201d DeLoach said, adding he thinks it\u2019s the type of thing the department will keep trying to get to make it easier for people to vote.\r\n\r\n\u201cI know the Electoral Board is in agreement that we need another full-time person. According to code, the Electoral Board is the one who can set the number of assistant registers and full-time and part-time, and they see the need as well as I do,\u201d Taylor said, and added there is only so much one can go over with part-time people because of deadlines.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou don\u2019t have a week to wait until that person is back in that office, or sometimes you don\u2019t have a couple of days to wait. It\u2019s just almost impossible to train somebody that\u2019s not in there to know what\u2019s going on,\u201d Taylor said.\r\n\r\nClerk of Court Sherri Hazelwood said she needs funds to continue employing an additional full-time worker. She said she currently has four full-time workers and \u201csome days could use four more.\u201d\r\n\r\nHazelwood said two of the salaries in the line items are paid through the state and reimbursed to the county.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf you look at it that way, we\u2019re only looking at $178,778.46 budget. I think it would be a good, solid investment in our workforce for this county. The returns I think would far outweigh the costs upfront,\u201d she said, adding the salary for the additional full-time worker would be $28,000 of the budget.\r\n\r\nShe said the reinstatement of jury trials will be a huge burden on her office.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are now scheduling no jury trial for less than three days. The jurisdictions that have actually implemented their plans, it\u2019s taking a full day to even pick the jury and the trial is not starting until the next day. So, that\u2019s going to be a drain on the staff. It\u2019s going to be a drain on the sheriff\u2019s department. We are going to have to post deputies both at the top of the steps and the bottom of the steps to do traffic control. We\u2019re going to have to break every two hours for cleaning. It\u2019s going to be quite an undertaking,\u201d Hazelwood said.\r\n\r\nShe said the only other increase she asked for was for office supplies.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe tend to run short in that line item. Recently, we had to order file folders, which of course is a necessity, and they are not cheap,\u201d she said.