Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — The Marshall County Fiscal Court approved a $2.15 million budget for the Marshall County Detention Center for the next fiscal year.
Major expenses in the budget include $663,800 for deputies’ salaries, $302,200 for retirement and $272,900 for employee insurance.
The jail’s budget allocates $175,000 for food, increasing from $140,000. Medical care has increased from the past year by $17,850 to $137,850. Jailer Roger Ford’s salary increased from $91,020 to $92,500.
Ford’s salary is set by state ordinance as he is an elected official.
According to the budget, the biggest revenue stream are state prisoners. Revenue has increased on that line from $1.225 million to $1.3 million.
Judge-Executive Mike Miller said the jail was once again able to be self-sustaining with a greater number of state inmates and lower expenses. The county anticipates a larger cash reserve on hand by the end of the current fiscal year and is decreasing its contribution to the jail by $6,000 to $587,500.
County Treasurer Emily Martin said while the state inmate population has been reduced, she has complete faith the jail will see more state prisoners soon.
“We believe we will see more state inmates and a state payment above what we have budgeted,” Martin said.
Ford said the state per-diem payment for county jails has been set at $31.34 for several years.
“We used to break even, but now expenses are rising,” Ford said. “Things like labor, food, medicine and utilities all cost more.”
Ford said he has 104 state inmates in his custody now. When the jail broke even, he liked to keep a population of 151 inmates, with 75 to 80 percent being state inmates.
“Since all of our costs have increased, and the per diem has not, I don’t know what number we’d even need to break even,” Ford said.
“It’s one thing the Kentucky Jailer’s Association has fought for every year to see an increase in the per diem. They say the money’s not there, and I’m beginning to think they’re right.”
Ford said at the lowest point, due to early releases and state cost-cutting measures, his population was reduced to about 120 inmates.
The average state population is about two-thirds of the total population.
Ford’s empty beds are the hardest to fill in the unsecured area.
He said these beds are for low risk prisoners performing community service.
Several jails compete for this class of offender.
He added the secured beds are full, forcing the state to send some prisoners to private facilities, if there is no appropriate state facility.
“It’s difficult to take an inmate that has a history of causing trouble because we only have two isolation areas,” Ford said.