One agency, thinking out of the box started a public relations campaign with their aviation unit. Doing various community outreach events such as school visits, fairs and community events they generated goodwill and a commitment by their residents. They then asked the community for financial support to help fund their program. The community was very receptive and now helps to partially fund their aviation unit.
Finally, aviation units must sell their value to the budget makers and politicians. We often sell our services in lives saved and there is certainly no way to measure that success. We might also have to translate this value in monetary terms. Use past research to help support your arguments. There have been some academic studies that have shown the economic value of airborne law enforcement. They studied police pursuits, searches etc. and showed their cost effectiveness.
By all measures, the economy will be slow to recover. As municipalities struggle with this recovery, law enforcement will have to rise to the challenge and find creative or unique ways to sustain their services.