Need a Penny-Take one

Hey Pal, do you have about $12m I can borrow?

Last week our commissioners met to discuss the budget requests from the departments.  To eliminate all the furloughs for the employees, restore retirement benefits, and meet the demands of all the Hall County departments, the county appears to be about ~$12m short ($11,996,760 to be exact).

You wonder what kind of impact SPLOST has on the budget; well, the county says they need $906,000 per year.  Oh, that doesn’t include the mowers and field machines.  What I love about the budget is that some department asked for a used rollback wrecker for $60,000!!!!  Don’t we have commercial services that do that?  Do we pay them $60k per year?  How about the people to run it?  Are we going into business now?

In the past, the county collected in the neighborhood of $40m per year in taxes.  I believe that I read that there is some thought that they expect the digest to be down by 5% this year.  The county expects to collect $36.4m in taxes.  In order to meet the demand, the county will have to reduce spending or raise taxes.  If they choose to raise taxes, they will need to increase property taxes by 25% (and this may still leave us short for the year after).

SO where do we cut? Well the big dog in the budget is the Sheriff’s office at ~$30m.  That is 1/3rd of the budget.  Half of their budget is spent on the detention center.  The 2010 budget doesn’t seem to describe the revenue we receive for boarding out of county inmates, but I am going to assume that it is listed as a “Special Revenue Fund” bringing in ~$6.8m per year.  When the new jail was completed, the Sheriff reported that “we will be returning close to a million dollars back to the county.”  The problem is we are losing $8.8 million per year!  Hmmm, seems like $8.8 million stands out for some reason.

I have to wonder if we really need to be housing other people’s problem children.  I can’t imagine that we are being sent the best criminals.  I have to wonder if the quality of prisoner could be impacting our own legal fees or worse, the health and safety of the Hall County prisoner that may be there for a mistake.   I have an idea, privatize the jail.  Outsource it!

Before you scream, we actually have a privatized jail in Hall County, the old jail.  This paper published back in 1992 talks about the trend that was developing.  Some studies indicate that privatized jails could save up to 15%, but since our jail contains about 75% of inmate from out of county, I think we would see a huge savings.  In our case, I think that leasing the jail could be a boon for our county.  We could potentially see an income from the least that would offset the cost of housing the ~300 prisoners from Hall County leaving the other 700 beds out there for the private firm to handle.

Privatizing the jails would be a start.

Hugh Hall County Akston

  3 comments for “Need a Penny-Take one

  1. Bobby Anderson
    July 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Have you thought about all the people that this outsourcing would be putting out of a job? The hall county Jail employs several hundreded people. Is the budget so important that you would be willing to put people out of a job which could make them lose thier homes and the ability to take care of thier loved ones?

    • William Rodgers
      July 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

      I agree with Bobby. Doesn’t the jail make money from the other counties that they are housing inmates from?

    • Hugh Akston
      July 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      @Bobby, yes I think about the loss of jobs. I don’t think, however, that my tax dollars should be supporting a jobs program. However, I do think that the last budget probably contributed to

      @William, yes the jail produces revenue, but at what expense. I am sure you saw the Fox 5 video showing one of our guards kicking some prisoners. Do you think we will see a law suit from that one? I also hear (but haven’t confirmed) that we pay for all transportation. That is a huge expense and liability.

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