Editor’s note: Anderson County Interim Mayor Myron Iwanski has proposed a solution to a budget standoff between county officials who don’t want to raise taxes and Sheriff Paul White, who says he needs at least 13 jailers to open a 128-bed minimum security dormitory. Here’s the proposal that Iwanski sent to county commissioners and staff members on Wednesday.
After last night’s meeting, I had a chance to talk to some of you, Sheriff White, and Avery Johnson about the sheriff’s budget. Based on your, the sheriff’s, and Avery’s input, I would like to offer a no-tax-increase solution for the sheriff’s budget that will allow the jail dormitory to be open and also address the longer term jail expansion staffing needs.
My proposal authorizes the sheriff to hire the 13 jailers he said he needs to open the new dormitory—but has some conditions that County Commission and the sheriff would need to agree to for us to do it in a fiscally responsible way.
The following is my proposal that I would like to Budget Committee take up at its 2 p.m. meeting on Monday in making its recommendation to County Commission for the Monday evening meeting:
- County Commission would authorize the sheriff to immediately hire 13 new jailers to staff the dormitory.
- County Commission would reserve $325,000 out of the rollover of unused funds from the current year’s budget to pay for 8 of these new jailers—with the other 5 funded as already provided for in the amended budget.
- County Commission would work with the sheriff to identify and implement cost savings as well as any unused funds in other areas of the sheriff’s budget to cover as much of the $325,000 for jailers as possible—and thus avoid having to use this reserve.
- The sheriff would present monthly reports to the Budget Committee on current spending rates and spending projections for the year.
- The sheriff would reduce its fleet from the current level of 94 cars to 70 cars. This would allow for the 39 road officers, nine investigators, and the two chief deputies to have cars and for 20 other cars to be assigned by the sheriff.
- Funds from the sale of these cars would go to the general fund’s fund balance. Vehicle O&M savings would be used help offset the need for the $325,000 reserve for jailers.
- County Commission would agree to fund 12 more jailers when the new pod is completed in two years. These 12 plus the 13 hired now would make up the total of 25 already agreed to by the sheriff as the staffing needed to cover the entire jail expansion.
- Once the main pod is built, the sheriff would agree to work with County Commission to explore leasing out jail beds that are being added for future growth. This would be a way to generate revenue to pay for much of the cost of these 25 jailers and help avoid the need for a future property tax increase.
- The Sheriff’s budget for next year would remain at the current year’s level—except for the addition of $553,000 for these 13 jailers and $100,000 for increased employee medical insurance costs.
- It is anticipated that the Alternative to Jail Program with the cooperation of the criminal justice system will be able to hold the jail population at current levels, and maybe reduce it next year. The County Commission understands that the jail budget for next year assumes average daily jail population next year stays at about the same level as the current year. If the jail population increases significantly, it is agreed that more funds will need to be allocated by County Commission to cover the cost for inmate food, clothing, etc.
I believe this is a reasonable and responsible solution to a difficult issue. Avery said that this proposal works for him as far as the jail operations. Sheriff White said that he is in general agreement with this proposal, but wanted to evaluate the number and type of vehicles currently in use before agreeing to a number. He will have the results of his evaluation at the meeting Monday.
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