Jailer gets creative with 2011-12 budget

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By Bryan Marshall

In his first year, Grant County Jailer said he has “a good budget” as he tries to reduce costs and increase revenues.

“Everybody wants to hammer the jail and say ‘The jail costs money,’” Peeples said during a recent fiscal court caucus meeting. “Well, we’re trying to fix that and be creative.”

The total proposed 2011-12 detention center budget is $4.1 million with $1.47 million in personnel costs, $879,255 for administration costs and nearly $438,000 for principal and interest of the lease of the jail facility.

Because the sheriff’s department is renovating a 5,500 square-foot space at the Grant County Detention Center to use as office space, the detention center will be paying $50,000 less for the bond payment for the facility.

The jail’s operating expenses total $1,354,693.

Peeples said he has reduced payroll costs by hiring more part-time employees to lower retirement and insurance expenditures.

By signing a food contract with a new company, Peeples said the facility also will save $60,000 to $70,000 annually.

The jail’s total revenue for 2011-12 fiscal year is estimated at $3.9 million with the biggest chunk coming from $2.7 million for state prisoners.

An estimated $376,000 in revenue is anticipated to come from other counties.

One revenue increase is in the amount of money generated through inmates’ phone conversations, which is budgeted to double to $180,000.

“We’ve doubled the amount of phones and the amount of time they’re on them,” Peeples said.

Another big change will come to the detention center July 1 as the jail signs a contract with a new medical provider.

Peeples said that last year $388,000 was budgeted for Southern Health Partners of Tennessee to provide medical coverage during the day.

However, he said he anticipates the cost of inmate medical care to be more than $500,000 by the end of the 2010-11 fiscal year because of hospital visits and other additional after-hours medical costs.

Although the new proposed budget sets aside $426,000 for a medical contract with Advanced Medical of Illinois, the jail will receive 24-hour coverage for the first time.

“We believe it takes liability away from the county for those night hours,” said Peeples.

The jail also can use 25 percent of the money made from the new Grant County Detention Center Canteen toward medical expenses to lower the amount the fiscal court must transfer from the county’s general fund.

Judge-Executive Darrell Link credited Peeples for “doing some innovative and creative things in the jail fund this year” during a budget caucus meeting.