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Jail “black hole” in budget

The McCreary County Detention Center continues to be a “black hole” in the County budget, and there are no indications that it will get better soon.

According to figures obtained from the McCreary County Judge Executive’s Office this week a total of $634,429.49 was spent between July 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015 – the first ten months of the fiscal year – on prisoner housing, medical costs and transportation alone.

Comparing those numbers to the starting budget for the fiscal year, the operations have cost the County more than $100,000 over what was originally budgeted ($530,000).

Housing costs for the first 10 months totaled $503,116.52, about $50,000 over the original estimate in the budget. If averaged and projected for the full 12-month period in the year, an estimated $603,000 will be spent on prisoner housing alone.

$56,419.75 was spent on medical expenses, projected to total $67,000 for the year. Only $25,000 was estimated when the budget was drafted.

For transport costs, which include the salaries of Transport Officers (not including the Jailer), $74,893 has already been spent, when original budget estimates projected only $55,000 in that line item.

For those three line items, an estimated $761,312 will have been spent, if the final two months of the year hold true to the average, for the current fiscal year on transports, housing and medical expenses alone – more than $61,000 of the total projected Jail Fund Budget.

The expenses do not include fuel costs, Jailer salary, maintenance and utility costs for the Jail, which if included further increases the deficit.

The total projected budget passed last June only totaled $699,000, and the new budget has increased by only $50,000 to reflect the higher costs. It also will be the first budget since the election of Jessie Hatfield as Jailer, who has a significantly lower salary that the previous Jailer, Tony Ball.

According to the first draft of the 2015-16 budget, passed at last month’s Fiscal Court meeting, estimated expenditures for the three line items still fall below actual expenses for the current year.

Only $500,000 is budgeted for inmate housing, $60,000 for medical services and $62,000 for Transport Officer salaries.

It was reported last month that Occupational Tax receipts for the current fiscal year are estimated to come in about $50,000 over original projections in the budget, but the deficit in the Jail Fund has apparently consumed the surplus and more.

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