County officials continue to investigate the feasibility of building a new jail for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. According to the latest numbers, the proposed project would likely be able to be completed without requesting a bond levy from the taxpayers of the county.
Reporting to the Monroe County Commissioners during their regular session meeting on July 14 were Sheriff Charles Black Jr.; Prosecuting Attorney James Peters; Rebecca Princehorn, Public Finance Lawyer with Bricker & Eckler; and Joseph Robertson IV, Director of Ohio Public Finance with Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, LLC. Prosecuting Attorney Peters noted that the meeting was about exploring “what the county can or can’t afford” and “what size of facility the county can afford to operate.”
After Robertson presented projected operating costs for a 52 bed facility, a 88 bed facility or a 112 bed facility, Sheriff Black noted that the cost of housing prisoners in other counties’ facilities was not deducted from the overall operating costs. He said the county is projected to spend upwards of $400,000 this year in prisoner housing and has spent over $250,000 each year in recent years.
Sheriff Black also noted that those figures do not count overtime or fuel costs involved in transporting prisoners to other counties. He said he spent above $7,000 in overtime salary last month with a normal month being $3,000 to $4,000.
Commissioner (and former Monroe County Sheriff) Tim Price said, “What’s upsetting is when you look back and see how much money has been spent [in prisoner housing and transport].
Also discussed was the fact that the county often does not jail people who, under normal circumstances, would be jailed. This happens because the cost can be high or there simply is not room at any local jails to place someone. “These sorts of things have been going on for years,” said Commissioner Price. Because of those issues, Sheriff Black and Prosecuting Attorney Peters both stated their opinion that a new jail for the county is necessary.
After the discussion, commissioners agreed to discontinue the exploration of building a 112 bed facility. The 52 bed facility and 88 bed facility are each still being considered. Robertson was directed to bring back new figures with the costs of housing and transporting prisoners deducted as operational savings.
Also meeting with commissioners was Jeanette Harter in regards to the 2015 county budget. Harter reported that the requests have been submitted. General fund requests for 2015 add up to $5,947,112.78. This is in excess by $664,487.58 of the projected revenue in 2015 of $5,282,625.20. Requests for other funds also came in slightly above the projected 2015 revenue of $16,054,192.86.