Special meeting ends without action over jail expenses

Published 9:19 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

Nearly two hours of discussion between jail officials and the Clark County Fiscal Court ended with a promise of better communication and no formal action.

During the Fiscal Court’s regular meeting Wednesday, some magistrates balked at a transfer to the jail of less than $5,000, shortly after another $108,000 transfer to make payroll, about $60,000 in outstanding bills and concerns about excessive staffing levels. The ensuing discussion led to a special meeting Friday morning to explore things further with jail officials present.

More than two dozen jail employees attended as well, as Jailer Frank Doyle and Chief Deputy Justin Crockett made a lengthy presentation about the jail’s finances.

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Crockett said the jail fell into a cash flow problem late in 2016 after five deputy jailers left within a month, state checks for housing inmates were late arriving and there was an extra pay period. Overtime expenses went up as other employees covered for those who quit, he said.

“When you have that many people leave, you still have to cover,” Doyle said. “This is something we can’t control.”

In the past two years, since Doyle took office as jailer, Crockett said the jail’s budget has increased more than $1 million, from $1.57 million in 2012 to $2.68 million for 2016 while the county’s percentage has dropped from $975,000 (59 percent) in 2013 to $840,000 (31 percent) for 2016.

Magistrate Greg Elkins, in looking at the budget and expenses for the first half of the fiscal year, said he believed the jail was on track to spend about $500,000 more than it is projected to generate in revenue. Crockett said there were a number of equipment purchases in the first six months which will not be repeated in the second.

Crockett said he expects to receive state payments and be caught up financially by March. He said he has also met with County Treasurer Jerry Madden to discuss the jail’s finances including ways to trim expenses for the balance of the fiscal year.

“It’s put us in a bind,” Magistrate Sheila McCord said. “If you can correct it with (reducing) overtime, that would be the way to go.”

Elkins also asked Doyle to attend the first fiscal court meeting of the month to discuss the jail and to present a plan for the rest of the fiscal year. Doyle agreed and Crockett said he would have a report to the magistrates prior to the Feb. 8 meeting.

Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos questioned reports there were 45 employees at the jail, despite a fiscal court order capping the staff at 40. The limit was raised from 35 after Doyle and Crockett previously asked for more staff to reduce overtime.

Those additional personnel, Crockett said, are paid through other revenue sources and run revenue-generating programs at the jail, including the commissary and a road deputy for state prisoners.

The jail staff, Crockett said, is at safe levels for the population, which has averaged 229 people a day. Generally, the jail has about 90 Clark County prisoners with state inmates making up the difference.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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