The Town of Leesburg has asked the county to pay for the police officers in Leesburg schools, but the county isn’t so sure.
Currently, middle and high schools in Leesburg are patrolled by Leesburg police officers, although the county pays 70 percent of the cost for those school resource officers. Leesburg Mayor Dave Butler penned a letter dated March 8 to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors to ask the county to pick up the remainder of that cost. Supervisors say they saw that letter only minutes before a budget worksession on March 10.
Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), who has been appointed to a joint Leesburg-Loudoun police committee, was skeptical.
“I’m not going into that to see how we can pick up costs from Leesburg,” Buffington said. “I’m going into that to see how we can increase efficiency between the two departments.”
“This is another one in a pattern from the Leesburg Town Council in the last few months,” said Vice Chair Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “It just seems like they’re trying to shift over every burden to the county.”
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said that if Loudoun is going to pick up the tab, the money should be used to hire the seven positions at stake for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
“If it’s going to be 100 percent county, I want to see the sheriff’s office in there,” Letourneau said.
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Col. Robert Buckman agreed that seven new Loudoun County school resource officers—one sergeant, six SROs, and equipment and vehicle costs—could help a lot.
“Over the summer months, they would have a tremendous impact in our operations,” Buckman said. “June, July and August are our busiest months.”
“It looks to me like there’s seven pink slips in this proposal, and I don’t think they [town council members] understand that,” Buona said.
Overall, the SRO program in Leesburg costs $872,000, of which the county pays $665,240. Loudoun would pay for the program with the money it already sends to Leesburg, plus moving money from the gasoline tax and the fleet replacement fund for vehicles. Staff says this would mean no net fiscal impact to the county, although if the county decides to place Loudoun deputies in the schools, Leesburg would lose both the $665,240 the county contributes to Leesburg SROs and $587,462 in gas tax funding the county would reallocate away from the town to pay for the new SROs. Overall, this would mean the county no longer sends $1,252,702 to the town.
The board tabled the question while former Leesburg mayor Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) communicates the board’s concerns to the town.