Quorum Court Sets Budget Talks
With the budget process set to begin for 2016, members of the Clay County Quorum Court discussed the profitability of housing prisoners for other entities at their meeting Monday evening. During the regular monthly gathering at the courthouse in Corning, the JPs also approved Ordinance 2015-15, which adjusts the current budget.
The first meeting of the budget committee is scheduled for next Tuesday, prompting the chair, Justice David Cagle, to inquire about the matter of the detention center. "We've been going over the numbers and it appears it costs us more to house prisoners than we make," he explained. According to Cagle, the budget for Sheriff Terry Miller's department includes about $300,000 incurred by housing prisoners for the Arkansas Department of Corrections and other regional entities. "Currently most of them are from Randolph County, but they just approved a bond issue to build a new jail so that will be going away in the next year or so," Miller offered.
Cagle noted the labor costs alone amount to around $240,000 each year, which is only a small part of the effort. "That doesn't take into account food, clothing, health care, wear and tear on the facilities or anything else," he explained. "Our costs are well over $300,000."
According to the latest figures the county has generated about $218,000 so far this year housing state prisoners at a rate of $30 a day, while the gross income on regional prisoners was set at $24,690.
"I think the sheriff should figure his budget both ways and see where we stand," Cagle surmised.
He noted the estimate of $240,000 in labor was based on salary and benefits for eight employees at the detention center. According to Miller, currently there are 19 employees on staff with his department.
The first of the budget committee meetings will be held Tuesday evening at the courthouse in Piggott, prompting one member to add, "our elected officials and department heads just need to remember there's only so much money to go around."
The justices passed Ordinance 2015-15 to amend the current budget, and appropriate funds for several departments. The JPs approved the measure, and the accompanying emergency clause, without dissent. It appropriates $16,154.89 in disaster funds; $265.50 from items sold to WWW Recycling; $4,200 from the sheriff's department's LLEBG grant funds; $43.42 of Act 988 funds to the sheriff's department's LLEBG grant fund; $1,763.20 reimbursement from Traveler's Insurance to the sheriff's department for previous traffic accidents involving their vehicles and $8,500 in donations to the K-9 drug dog fund. It also amends the detention center, sheriff's department, county road, sheriff's LLEBG grant fund and the K-9 dog fund accordingly.
In other business the court--
* Was informed by Judge Gary Howell the road department was working on repairs, and indicated the trucks would be hauling from three different gravel pits to save fuel and wear-and-tear expenses.
* Heard an update from Treasurer Carolyn Morrisett, as she noted the County General balance as of Monday was around $241,000. She also reported the receipt of tax monies from Miller, collected in the western district, amounting to an additional $60,000.