The Boyle-Mercer County Joint Jail Committee approved a $5 million budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, but members of the jail staff were not happy.
The budget sets staffing at the Boyle County Detention Center at 39 full-time positions and four part-time positions. BCDC officers were hoping to retain an additional full-time position, the transport position that was eliminated after Boyle County agreed to stop charging Mercer County for jail transport costs.
In a letter he wrote to the joint jail committee, Boyle Jailer Barry Harmon noted that the BCDC transport officer, Lt. Gerald Wethington, only spent 26-percent of his monthly hours transporting inmates to and from court. He asked that Wethington’s duties be expanded to include field training.
Harmon said the jail committee and both county fiscal courts had agreed “that it requires a minimum of 41 full-time deputies to safely and securely operate” BCDC.
“This decision was based on an inmate population of 220,” the jailer said. “Reducing the number of deputies greatly increases the odds of a deputy being injured during an assault.”
While the committee members were sympathetic, they elected to eliminate the position.
Even on a good year, creating a budget for BCDC can be difficult. This year, the job was made even harder because of the uncertainty over the state budget. In addition to questions over continued Local Corrections Assistance funding from the state, there is also the rising cost of retirement and the fact that, over the last year, the state has been consistently tardy in making payments.
Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley said the state had been at least a month behind on every payment. The jail committee is currently waiting on a $90,000 payment from the state. Conley hopes they will be caught up before the end of the fiscal year.
As a result of the uncertainty with state funding and increases in expenses—in particular, a four-percent increase in medical coverage costs and higher water and sewer bills—the contributions from both counties is increasing.
Mercer’s contribution is growing from $819,799 for the last fiscal year to $883,198. Boyle’s contribution is growing from $1,522,447 for the last fiscal year to $1,640,224. Overall, the jail budget has grown from $5,000,380 for the last fiscal year to $5,084,074.
Conley said every department has to be mindful of working within the available revenue.
“You have to look at it,” Conley said. “You can’t ignore it.”
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.