New jail puts drain on budget
For the first time in eight years, the Leavenworth County sheriff thinks he may have to wrap up the year's budget in the red.
"It's the move to the new jail that's causing it," said Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye. "I told the commissioners this would probably not be an adequate budget. We're trying to do as much as we can to keep it from going further in the red."
In April, the county's new Justice Center opened. This building combined under one roof the sheriff's department, the Leavenworth Police Department, the county jail, courtrooms and related offices. Prisoners didn't move into the new jail in August when staff had been hired.
Nye said because the old jail was crowded, from five to 10 prisoners were consistently "farmed out" to other jails until the new jail opened in August. Further, Nye said the department was strapped by overruns in prisoner healthcare and pharmaceuticals costs.
These expenses were topped off by a hike in utilities, along with a larger jail and sheriff's offices to heat and cool.
"We went basically from this year's budgeted $25,000 for gas and electric to $84,000 for this year," Nye said.
Along the same line, volatile gasoline prices took a bite out of the budget.
"The gasoline increase hit us bad," Nye said. "I think we're going over about $4,000 in gasoline costs."
And an unexpected expense, Nye said, was the sheriff department's $52,000 share of a software maintenance contract on the county's newly updated 911 system.
As of Monday, Nye said it looked as if the jail's 2000 budgeted $1,427,000 would see a projected shortfall of about $11,000.
Moreover, Nye said he thought the sheriff department's 2000 budget of $1,926,361 would come out about $193,000 short.
However, a part of that will be reimbursed through a traffic grant that will pay salaries for patrol officers. Nye said the specific numbers on that wouldn't be available until the end of the year.
The 2001 budget, which Nye prepared last April, is set at $1,760,710 for the jail and $2,693,000 for the sheriff's department.
Nye said he expected some of the jail's expenses to drop somewhat in 2001.
"I'm pretty confident this was a fluke this year," Nye said. "We moved into a new facility and with the expenses of getting the new facility up and running everything was just a guess."
Despite the freeze put on extra expenses in his department, Nye said services will continue.
"I do everything I can to keep costs down around here," he said. "Sometimes it just happens and there's nothing you can do about it. I can't let prisoners go, I can't not have road patrol there's only so many things you can do without."