Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sheriff Says Jail Lost $1 Million In Two Months

Jail Losing Lots Of Money Say Sheriff - Planning Move And Firing Employees

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon appeared before the Glades County Commission today saying he's lost $1,000,000 over the last two months because of a lack of federal prisoners at the new county jail.

Commissioner Donna Storter reported Whiddon's plight in her regular commentary to constituents: 

Storter reports Sheriff Stuart Whiddon informed the County Board of Commissioners today that he may be needing to move back into the old jail facility due to declining numbers of ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) detainees, he has lost $1 million dollars in the last two months.

Glades county's jail for the last several years has housed many more aliens arrested by Federal authorities than U.S. citizens accused of Glades county crimes.

Whiddon said the Glades Correctional Development Corp, [GCDC], operators of the facility have $3 million in reserves, and financial audits have drawn high marks for the operation and said the problem is "political" as the Federal administration cuts back on enforcement of the laws governing illegal aliens.
He said of the 800,000 persons detained last year by Federal authorities, only 200,000 were deported.

Whiddon said investors in GCDC may choose to infuse money but that probably would only buy a few month's time. He stated he will confer with them on Friday, and will know then if he needs to be able to move from the facility by the end of the month.

He stated some minor repairs need to be done to the old jail facility next to the Glades courthouse which was renovated in 2008 with $1.4 million from one-cent discretionary sales tax revenue and  leased by GCDC for 15 months at the rate of $550,000 per year which produced approximately $625,000 to the county to house up to 100 female and juvenile detainees. 

The jail facility has been empty since 2009 except when used for storage of equipment and records.

Whiddon stated he had conferred with County Manager Carlisle about the matter and had recently examined the facility, and said equipment stored there would need to be removed and leaks would have to be fixed; he stated he would need administrative office space for accounting staff and proposed the county remodel the old health department facility for offices.

Whiddon stated he plans to have Federal Marshall detainees/inmates move with the county’s inmates as the facility has capacity for about 100 and he could house 20-25 Marshall’s charging approximately $55 per diem and help offset the county’s operating costs.

Commissioner Echols, the Board’s delegate member of GCDC, told the Board that it was simply a matter of mathematics, that it takes X amount of dollars for X amount of inmates to break even, and it is not financially feasible to operate the system with under 200 federal detainees. The facility was designed to house more than 400 with no contracts with the Feds.

Chairman Storter inquired of Attorney Pringle concerning emergency status of immediate repairs and readiness preparations for the old jail, and would the Board need consensus or official action to proceed.

He stated that repairs to the facility could be done without official action. Commissioner Echols stated approximately $1 million remains unencumbered in the one-cent fund and the spending limit before bids were required is $50,000. Sheriff Whiddon stated Wright Construction had renovated the building and are currently working with the county on another project and may be able to perform the repairs now.

Storter reminded the Board that the jail was the responsibility of the Board of County Commissioners, not the Sheriff, and assured the Sheriff that the Board would work with him expediently.

Along with the immediate need for office space, transfer of the 911 equipment for dispatch will be necessary. 911 Coordinator Terri Anascavage stated she had just applied for a rural county grant for the operation and maintenance of the county’s 911 system, and had she known, she could have applied for funding to move the system. The grant deadline was April 1.

Sheriff Whiddon stated he would have to lay off 80-90 corrections staff and some road patrol staff as well. He said if on Friday GCDC does not provide more funding, he will immediately dismiss staff. He says he does not need an office, but would immediately need offices for accounting staff.

Whiddon commented that he has a lot of equipment that will need to be moved that does not belong to GCDC. Echols inquired if the Sheriff could make some arrangement with GCDC for the county to keep the mobile fuel system and move it to the Road Dept, stating it would allow volume discounts and gas taxes. Whiddon said the county had constructed some storage buildings that GCDC may consider and allow the fuel system to goto the county.

Chairman Storter inquired and was informed by Public Safety Director Bob Jones that there is room in the county’s storage building at the Fire Dept in Moore Haven, and will have even more room when the Clerk’s storage building is completed and Clerk’s records can be relocated there. 

Storter commented that office space is available in the Community Development building; County Manager Carlisle stated there is a vacant office in the courthouse; Carlisle will work with Sheriff Whiddon to facility preparations for the move.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:25 PM

    What a disgusting example of government over reach and mismanagement meanwhile the sheriff will be laughing all the way to the bank.