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Rising jail costs concern board

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors is concerned about the high cost to operate the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center (regional jail) in Saluda.

Jail board member and Pinetop District supervisor Beth Hurd brought the matter up at the supervisors’ meeting on February 5. 

“I’m not happy with the jail board budget,” Hurd told supervisors. “They want to use the jail’s reserve funds to balance the budget, and when that’s gone the (participating) counties will have to pick up the costs.”

The proposed 2013-14 regional jail budget includes a 2% raise for employees and is using $593,615 in revenue from reserve accounts to balance the budget, said Hurd.  “When the reserve funds run out, by my math Middlesex will have to pick up 22.41% of the $593,615 proposed increase. It will cost county taxpayers about $133,000. I have been opposed to using reserve funds since I have been on the board.”

The five localities involved in the jail paid about $3.5 million in 2012-13 to run the facility. Counties pay according to the number of inmates they send to the jail. Essex County is the highest user of the jail and spent $915,167 to house its inmates in 2012-2013. King William is the second highest user, $894,909; Middlesex, third, $866,299; King and Queen, fourth, $577,888; and Mathews, fifth, $369,620.

In 2012, Middlesex’s inmates accounted for 22.41% of the jail population. An average of 25 to 30 prisoners per day were from Middlesex.

The cost to localities to run the jail has steadily been increasing. In 2006-07 Middlesex paid $475,475, and in 2007-08 it paid $529,815.

In 2008-09 there was a huge jump for all the localities, and Middlesex paid $857,045. In 2009-10, Middlesex paid $800,086.

The compensation line item, $3,064,228, makes up the vast majority of the jail budget, and this does not include benefits such as retirement and insurance payments, said Hurd.

The jail superintendent earns $97,000; assistant superintendent, $75,000; three finance people, a total of $125,000; five nurses, a total of $225,000; a food service supervisor, $44,000; a maintenance person, $54,000; a GED teacher, $38,000; and the salaries of 59 jail officers/security people make up most of the rest.

posted 02.13.2013

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