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Monday, May 2, 2016

Budget cuts underway, but jail still an issue

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Where the Fulton County Sheriff's Office will be able to cut the remainder of their annual budget, and how they will be able to maintain the same level of law enforcement is questionable.

The Sheriff's Office estimated about $13,000 can be cut from the Sheriff's Office budget. Cutting 20 percent of the Sheriff's Office budget, about $47,000 is not going to be possible unless employees are let go, said Walter Dillinger, Fulton County Sheriff.

"I don't know where we'd cut it at unless you lay off people," Dillinger said. He will not be able to let deputies go. "You get rid of two or three deputies and then where would you go? More than likely you'd never get them back. People think it's rough right now, you take two or three deputies out and it's not going to get better."

The county employs five full-time deputies and has five reserve unpaid deputies.

Total budget for the Fulton County Sheriff's Office has increased by about $90,000 over two years. The largest jump in budget came from full-time salaries; about $54,000 has been added to the salary budget since 2007, according to Fulton County data. The Sheriff's Office employs 19.

The vast majority of the increase in the salary budget has come for an across-the-board for all county employees, Dillinger said.

"We are within our budget," he said. "The only thing I know to do is get rid of some of the jailers because they are going to close the jail down anyways."

News of budget cuts across the County General budget surmount growing concerns related to the Fulton County Jail not meeting state requirements.

Each prisoner that must be housed outside the county costs $45 each day. Housing is paid for out of the Sheriff's Office budget. The maximum limit of prisoners allowed in Fulton County Jail is seven. As of Oct. 1, 10 prisoners were housed in the jail while five had been housed outside the county, Dillinger said.

Izard County Jail serves as Fulton County's primarily source of housing when a prisoner must be outsourced. County jails in Sharp, Baxter and Independence Counties are also used. Each of the jails used by Fulton County has been built or renovated in more recent years.

"You are going to have to put these people in jail," said Al Roork, Salem Chief of Police. "You don't have a choice."

Fees and fines incurred from misdemeanor arrests made by Salem police go to the city, Roork said. All fees and fines from felony arrests, no matter the arresting party, go to the county. As it stands, the city of Salem does not pay any fee to Fulton County for the use of the jail.

The county must, by law, accept prisoners who are arrested for committing any incarcerated offense, Roork said.

The Sheriff's Office spent $34,543.10 in 2008 housing prisoners outside the county. So far in 2009 they have spent $21,890 housing prisoners outside.

In 2009, Fulton County Sheriff's Office has averaged 13 to 15 prisoners in custody each day, Dillinger said. Fulton County can expect to pay about $240,000 to house prisoners if the Fulton County Jail is shut down because of falling short of federal requirements imposed on all public jails. The cost of housing prisoners outside the county does not account for the man-hour and transportation costs of moving prisoners back and forth from out-of-county housing.

Fulton County Judge Charles Willet continues to work with Lee and Associates, architects from Batesville, on the viability of building a new jail or renovating a local facility.

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I would think readjusting the fines that go to the city could help the county since they do house the city violators. Why should the city get the fines if they don't have to pay for a jail? That is pretty slick cost accounting in my book.

Anyone look into a regional jail say to serve several counties. Could share the costs and meet all requirements. Rent out unused space to other counties. Look into using state charges verus city charges on arrests. This has been done in other areas. Provides the county with more revenue to pay for running the county jails.

-- Posted by troutman on Wed, Oct 14, 2009, at 8:12 AM

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