Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deep Thoughts on North Carolina's Proposed Budget, Jail Costs and Guilford County Finances, by Scott Yost

"State Budget Woes Passed on to County

...if the governor's new proposed budget passed as is, the state would begin charging Guilford County a fee for jail inspections...something that, in the past, the state has always done at no charge to the county.

...the governor's proposed budget...calls for an increase in the non-federal share costs for adult home monitoring.

In the proposed new arrangement the county and state would each pay 25 percent of the cost not picked up by the federal government. That move, once implemented in all 100 counties, would cost the counties a total of about $525,000.

The State of North Carolina is also proposing to increase the percentage counties pay for programs that place orphans in permanent homes – a move that would transfer a $683,000 expense from the state to the counties.

...In the past, the state has been paying county sheriff's departments $40 a day when a county is keeping inmates that are rightfully state inmates...There's been talk among state officials of reducing that $40 per day rate to about half that..."

Scott D. Yost

"Astronomical Jail Costs Keep On Rising

...it's becoming clear to commissioners and county staff that the real story isn't the cost of building the jail, but instead the recurring annual cost it's going to take to operate it. Right now no one is hazarding a guess as to how much that will be – the $10 million is just to staff the jail.

...wide-eyed county commissioners and county staff heard Barnes say he would need to hire 166 new employees to staff the jail at a cost of $8.5 million, which didn't cover any of the other costs of operating the giant 1,000-bed jail.

...when Barnes and a majority of Guilford County commissioners were trying to sell the voters on the new jail, jail advocates never discussed in any detail how to pay to run the jail – because it wasn't in their interest to have that discussion.

Voters would have realized that, in addition to the giant price tag for constructing the jail, there was also a giant cost for running the jail – a cost that will now reoccur year after year.

...The county will pay about $5 million a year for 20 years to service the jail bond debt.

...There are other costs involved as well that were never really discussed before the jail bond passed; for instance, there will be a large added cost – in one form or another – to fix the parking problem the new jail creates.

...a recent study done for the City of Greensboro that projects the cost of a large new downtown parking deck to be between $6 million and $10 million."

Scott D. Yost

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