COVINGTON, Va. – Financial difficulties may cause the city of Covington to partially break away from the Alleghany County Sheriff's Office.
Interim Covington City Manager Clay Goodman has proposed cutting all funding for law enforcement from the sheriff's office within the next three years. The plan would cut the city's payment in half in the 2021 fiscal year and eliminate it in June 2021, the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year.
"We have a very tight budget just like Alleghany County and like any government in this area of Virginia," Goodman said.
The city currently pays the sheriff's office $244,000 for law enforcement, which includes tasks such as investigations and serving warrants. If the new plan is approved, those duties would go to the Covington Police Department instead.
"We realize we have a department and we feel that as we move forward, they can take care of the needs of the city," Goodman said.
Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall worries the plan could lead to cuts within his department.
"This is so serious that it may end up causing us to lay off deputies," Hall said. "If it goes down to zero, you're looking at people. There's no other way."
Unlike most independent cities, Covington shares the sheriff's office with Alleghany County. The city will continue paying for services such as the jail and court security even if this plan is approved.
"If you don't want to like this deal, then maybe we should as a county renegotiate this jail deal," Hall said. "To hear them say 'We're going to reduce this budget and then we're going to reduce you down to zero'...It's going to hurt the people here."