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Chesapeake considers not prosecuting some crimes

Saturday - 8/4/2012, 12:58pm  ET

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Some crimes in Chesapeake may not get prosecuted because the city's finances are strained.

The city's revised budget calls for habitual drunkenness, stalking and animal abuse to make the list of "non-mandated prosecution" as Chesapeake faces a budget deficit that could reach $6 million.

Domestic violence offenses and misdemeanor sexual assaults could be added to the list if the budget is cut any more, Chesapeake Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr told the Virginian-Pilot ( http://bit.ly/OvbCWU).

Steven Jenkins, the city's budget director, delivered a grim outlook to the city council this week, outlining the expected $6 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year. Reducing prosecution of some crimes could save the commonwealth attorney's office $95,000, he said.

"There may be some misdemeanors that aren't prosecuted that might otherwise be because there's fewer staff," Jenkins told the council.

The cutbacks are the latest the city has done to ease budget pressures. Others include reduced library hours, taller grass and fewer civilians in the police department.

Jenkins said the city needs to make sure the public understands the budget situation and the reality that a lot of the services they're used to aren't going to be the same.

Mayor Alan Krasnoff cautioned against cutting services that people need most in a down economy, including libraries, community health services and social services.

"When you look at a recession, certain services should be elevated rather than thinking about them being reduced," he said. "I would hope we start rethinking the way we do things."

The council also is discussing how bad things could get if Congress fails to reach an agreement to avoid defense spending cuts that are projected to eliminate thousands of Virginia jobs.

"As much as we hope it won't happen, I'm trying to make sure that if the cliff comes, we're as prepared as we can be," Krasnoff said Thursday. "I don't think anybody can say what might happen at this stage."


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)