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Inmate housing costs hurting county's jail budget

Soaring costs for housing and processing inmates at the Davison County Public Safety Center led to a lengthy budget discussion at the commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Davison County North Offices. (Republic file photo)
Davison County North Offices. (Republic file photo)

Soaring costs for housing and processing inmates at the Davison County Public Safety Center led to a lengthy budget discussion at the commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Davison County Jail Administrator Don Radel reported to the county the cost per day to house inmates in 2018 rose to $120.56 as of Nov. 30, up almost 25 percent from $96.56 in 2017.

According to Radel's numbers, 2,433 inmate days were logged for out-of-county inmates through the first 11 months of the year. Davison County charges $95 per day per out-of-county inmate and the commissioners decided to not increase the rate at this time.

"We contract with six counties, Aurora, Sanborn, Miner, McCook, Hanson, Hutchinson, and Douglas. They are pretty much our immediate neighbors," Radel said.

With out-of-county inmates the administration can at least recover some of the jail's operating costs, which added up to $1.86 million in 2018, according to Brenda Bode, chairman of the board.

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"It is also helping our neighbors out, in a sense. Most smaller counties might only house half a dozen inmates in a year and do not have jails for that reason," Bode said.

The county has struggled for years to control costs at the jail, facing wage increases, higher costs in meals and skyrocketing costs for medication administered to inmates.

"We're not surprised by the higher budget, but are always hopeful and work hard at trying to monitor the cost," Bode said. "Part of it has been working and coming up with a good system of how the jail staff is scheduled to curtail overtime."

Oftentimes inmates are brought to jail over the weekend and at late hours, which forces the full-time staff to stay late and handle the intakes.

The commissioners approved the hiring of two additional part-time employees Tuesday in hopes of reducing overtime costs. Through November of this year, the jail racked up $48,436.88 in overtime.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved minor changes on a plot of land owned by Alicia Odland, as recommended by the Davison County Planning and Zoning Department.

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• Held two executive sessions on contractual and personnel matters.

• Reviewed and approved the annual union proposal presented to the board by State's Attorney Jim Miskimins. The county auditor will review the appendix that refers to wage increases for the jail staff in 2019.

• Set the date and time for the county land lease auction to be held on Jan. 15, 2019, at 10 a.m. at the Davison County North Office.

• Approved bills and miscellaneous motions brought to the board.

• Reviewed and signed a letter of commitment for the hazardous mitigation plan.

Personnel items

The commissioners approved the following new hires at the Davison County Public Safety Building:

• David Suarez, part-time at the 24/7 desk at $14.02

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• Melinda Harmelink, part-time corrections officer at $16.62.

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