Sheriff, jail affected by budget crunch
December 18, 2009
The Moffat County Sheriff's Office is quite familiar with the budget crunch now sweeping through local, state and federal governments.
Unfortunately, Sheriff Tim Jantz said, much of his department's revenue comes from government sources, such as the state of Colorado or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, that pay Moffat County's jail for keeping their prisoners.
Lately, those revenue streams more closely resemble revenue trickles.
Jantz said the Moffat County Public Safety Center has housed about 50 to 60 inmates a day for about the past month. On Wednesday, the number was 55.
The jail's population used to consistently be in the 70s and 80s each night, Jantz added, meaning the jail is earning less money each month than what used to be the norm.
For its part, the Colorado Department of Corrections has been somewhat hamstrung by the state's multi-million dollar budget deficit and isn't outsourcing as many of its inmates to regional jails, Jantz said.
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State officials are even pressing for early releases on some prisoners to save the money it would take to keep them incarcerated, he added.
The BIA, now in the middle of its budget process, is trying to redo its prisoner sharing program, as well, Jantz said.
Thankfully, both the state and BIA are sending some inmates and paying for some of their stay, he added.
"We're still there, we just don't have the volume we once did," he said.
To help balance his budget, Jantz said he plans not to fill an vacant deputy position until revenues come back up.
"We're going to be proactive, just like the commissioners are doing with their budget process," he said. "We're going to look at this situation on a monthly, even weekly basis to see if this turns around."
The Sheriff's Office does not plan to eliminate any positions at this point, he added, because some of them are revenue-based to make sure there are enough deputies working at the jail for the number of inmates.
When and if the money returns, and if the need is there, Jantz said he would consider filling the position again.
"One of the things I really have to focus on is employee and inmate safety," he said. "We can't staff ourselves so low that the safety of the employees or the inmates is in jeopardy."