The Butler County Jail was the hot topic at the County Commission meeting Tuesday.
Commissioners approved a contract with Saline County to house around 20 inmates despite several typos made by Saline County. This would put around $4,900 of revenue a week towards the deficit the jail has been facing since cutting inmate counts in December. The jail needs $6,500 to $6,800 per day to break even on costs. Currently, the jail is bringing in around $5,500 a day.
Saline County would pay $35 per inmate per day for housing for the next three years. The rate per day can be negotiated at any time, however, Captain Erik Ramsey said that is typically the going rate for other area municipalities.
“Right now we’re just trying to bring in more revenue,” Ramsey said. “A year from now we can look at negotiating, but right now we want to contract to be approved to bring in whatever revenue we can.”
Ramsey said he is also exploring raising the rate per day paid by for inmates of the U.S. Marshals Service. Currently, the rate is $60 per day. Ramsey planned to submit paperwork this week to raise that total to $71 per day.
“The process has been challenging and in depth, to say the least,” Ramsey said. “It’s the most challenging project I’ve taken on since taking this job. It’s very involved.”
Ramsey has been working for two weeks solid gathering financial statements and other data to submit to the Marshals for a possible increase. He is also hoping to increase the number of Marshal inmates, ICE and Federal Bureau of Prisons inmates housed at the jail.
“We’re aggressively soliciting inmates from ICE,” Ramsey said. “We hope to get that number up to 15, double what it is now.”
All federal agency inmates would fall under the $60 dollar per day charge, and allow the jail to increase revenue without increasing substantially the jail count. Employment retention at the jail has been an issue for several years. The number of open positions within the jail was as high as 16 last fall, but thanks to increased bonuses and position advertisement the jail is down to only eight open positions. Due to the staff increases, overtime expenses are down and mandatory overtime for patrol officers at the jail ended June 1.
They were down to as few as five, but had two resignations and one termination this month. Ramsey said the goal is to increase inmate counts slowly to give green staff members a chance to acclimate and hopefully keep retention down.
“We’re at 38 employees and 44 is our goal,” Ramsey said. “Our of the eight years I’ve been here I’ve never seen staffing levels this high.”
At this time Ramsey said he has no intention of accepting back Kansas Department of Corrections prisoners due to the trouble they caused and the lower daily rate. Another thing that Ramsey is weary about with KDOC prisoners is the recent population change happening at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.
“The type of inmate they’re housing is changing,” Ramsey said. “They’re turning the facility into a more state supermax or high-level facility and we don’t want those types of people at our facility.”
Negations are underway with getting back inmates from Sedgwick County.
Because the jail has eaten through its reserve funds, a gas dryer purchase was tabled until a time the budget was more secure or revenue was higher.
- Bids for engineering firms for planned sewer projects were opened. They will be tabulated by a staff committee and returned for awarding.
- Bids for public work equipment and vehicles were opened.
- Commissioners approved the first quarter financial report.