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Davison Co. hopes to keep jail costs down by raising its budget

The Davison County Commission is hoping to cut costs at the county jail by raising its overtime budget. After going approximately $236,000 over budget in 2015, with $72,282.73 of the added expense caused by overtime costs, the Davison County Comm...

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Republic file photo

The Davison County Commission is hoping to cut costs at the county jail by raising its overtime budget.

After going approximately $236,000 over budget in 2015, with $72,282.73 of the added expense caused by overtime costs, the Davison County Commission is considering raising the jail's overtime budget to set a more reasonable threshold for Corrections Administrator Don Radel to meet.

At Tuesday's regular commission meeting at the county's North Offices in Mitchell, commissioners suggested raising the jail's overtime budget to $35,000, up from the $15,000 overtime budget that's been set every year since 2009. While Radel said the jail has averaged approximately $70,000 in annual overtime costs since 2009, Commissioner John Claggett suggested the larger budget could actually help to lower the hefty overtime costs.

"You can hold feet to the fire on a realistic budget, and the other way you can't," Claggett said about the $35,000 budget request.

According to County Auditor Susan Kiepke, past commissions kept Radel's overtime budget low with the hope it would keep costs down. But after spending $87,282.73 for jail-related overtime in 2015, it's clear the efforts of past commissions were unsuccessful.

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"In the past, the commissioners thought if they kept that number low it would decrease the overtime and make the jail not have the overtime, well that's unrealistic," Kiepke said.

Commissioner Randy Reider agreed with the need to establish a reasonable budget for the jail administrator to work with, and he acknowledged Radel's attempts to improve scheduling and limiting overtime expenses.

Despite those efforts, Radel's staff has already exceeded its $15,000 overtime budget for 2016. According to Kiepke, overtime costs from January to June were approximately $47,396, more than three times the amount budgeted for the entire year.

After hearing the overtime expenses through June, Radel admitted it's extremely challenging to keep overtime costs below $15,000 annually.

"Quite honestly, I don't know if we'll ever make that $15,000 mark," Radel said. "We've been twice that since 2009."

No formal budget decisions were made Tuesday, but a $20,000 increase in the overtime budget would bring Radel's 2017 budget requests for the Davison County Jail to $1,747,408.

Radel also highlighted 11 potential projects he feels should be accomplished in the near future at the county jail, including repairs to "crumbling" jail cell walls, replacement of jail flooring, an upgrade to the jail intercom system and upgrades to the video security system in the jail inmate area.

The commission also considered budget requests from Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg, who oversees one of the most costly departments within county government. Weinberg requested $3,825,662 for his 2017 budget, a 5 percent increase for his 2016 budget.

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Weinberg's budget requests centered around a $25,000 increase in repairs and maintenance, a $190,000 increase in machinery and a $100,000 increase in gravel costs.

The largest increase is attributed to machinery upgrades, which would allow the county to purchase a semi-trailer that could haul twice as much gravel in one trip than the county's existing trucks. Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode suggested the potential purchase would reduce manpower needed to transport gravel for road projects and could also cut fuel costs.

Bode also said the new truck could provide safety benefits for county drivers.

"Two trucks are the road are not as safe as one," Bode said.

Other business

In other regular business Tuesday, the commissioners:

• Approved three plats as recommended by the Davison County Planning and Zoning Board.

• Accepted an agreement to receive $40,558 in state funds to support the Davison County Office of Emergency Management.

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• Accepted the resignation of a jail employee, who turned in a resignation during the two-week period when the commission did not meet. The commission also approved advertising for a replacement full-time jail employee.

• Received a quarterly report from Welfare Supervisor Dawn Grissom, which showed 21 medical assistance welfare requests were made as of the second quarter of 2016.

• Heard a quarterly report from Community Health Nurse Natalie Van Drongelen, who said 109 immunizations and skin tests were administered and 193 clients were seen for family planning services in the second quarter among other services provided.

• Approved timesheets and bills, accepted the auditor's account with the treasurer, acknowledged volunteers, denied three welfare requests and accepted a raffle request from the National Rifle Association.

• Approved an automatic supplement of Homeland Security funds to the county for $5,503.50 and a federal overtime grant for $1,696.66.

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