The Mercer County Fiscal Court reviewed the $5.2 million jail budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Mercer officials also received some answers to their questions on why the county’s share of jail expenses kept going up even as population at Boyle County Detention Center went down.
Mercer’s contribution is projected to increase from $724,458 to $870,114 in the next fiscal year. That is attributable to two factors: first, rather than apply for CARES Act funding, Boyle has applied for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and they have not received it yet. At Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting, Mercer Treasurer Sandy Sanders said that is not reflected in the jail budget.
The other reason for the increase is attributed to when Mercer and Boyle amended the interlocal agreement between the two counties that would allow Mercer to pay a smaller share of jail costs. Expenses would be based on the percentage of the jail population from each county. Last year’s jail budget was based on Mercer inmates making up 27-percent of the jail population when actually 29-percent of the inmates came from Mercer. This year’s budget is based on Mercer again having 29 percent of the inmates.
In the past, the percentages have been set after the budget has already been drafted. Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean said they are looking at moving the percentage calculation to a better date for setting the budget.
He said last year’s budget was drafted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We didn’t know what it was going to do to our revenue,” Dean said.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, the detention center has not been able to bring in state inmates.