The 2008-2009 budget for the County is now upon us. The present BOCC already indicated a 15 percent reduction across the board for all departments. There is no doubt going to be a shortfall within the budget and costs are going to extremely tight not only for this year but also next year.
Two years ago a proposal was put forth to the present BOCC and they turned it down, twice. The proposal presented was for the Sheriff's Department to go outside and house inmates from other counties and federal prisoners. As it stands now there are many empty beds at the county facility that could house additional inmates. Doing this would bring to the county much needed funds. By doing this and taking into consideration the cost involved for housing 75 additional inmates and if the other counties paid $50 per day for their inmates and the federal rate was $54 per day per inmate the result would be a positive amount in excess of $1 million dollars.
With 75 inmates, outside of Levy County, the approximate annual cost would be $333,402.50. The same cost would also be applicable for federal inmates. This amount would include the proposed cost for food, uniforms, sheets, towels, slides, blankets, hygiene and five additional corrections officers. However, there is a possibility that the five corrections officers could be reduced and if that occurred the generated income would increase.
If there were 75 inmates from other counties the generated income would be $1,016,597.50. If there were 75 federal inmates the generated income would be $1,124,597.50. The two amounts are after the approximate cost of $333,402.50 was deducted. These amounts represent the approximate cost and revenue as stated above.
It would be suggested a percentage of this income be placed into a contingency fund for the Sheriff's Department and the remainder be placed in the county's general fund. This would allow the Sheriff's Department an excess contingency in case of an emergency, such as the recent purchase of the new radio system.
Can the county afford to turn down a profit increase excess of $1 million dollars? I think not. If the above proposal is not completely accepted then an alternative would be a two-year trial basis. If the revenue does not present itself within that time then the program could be discontinued. With the additional revenue the BOCC could fund the necessary increase for the various fire departments around the county. After all, isn't the responsibility of the BOCC to serve and provide services for the people of the county?