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Jail budget expected to rise overall by 3%

Jail budget expected to rise overall by 3%

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With January marking the start of a new year, it also signals the beginning of budget season. Similar to localities and states around the county, the Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ) is drafting its fiscal year 2022 budget.

Last month, the CVRJ Authority approved its draft budget, which will be presented to the localities later this month and adopted in March. The approximately $16.9 million budget represents a 3.36% increase over the current year’s $16.4 million. The budget requests approximately $8.7 million collectively from the five counties the jail serves (Orange, Madison, Greene, Louisa and Fluvanna). This is approximately $250,000 more than the current year’s allocation.

CVRJ Finance Director Teresa Miller said the increase was requested by the administrators of the localities in order to avoid a larger hit later. For several years, the jail has used a portion of the fund balance to offset the cost to the localities, but at some point that will end.

“We’re trying each year to increase the use to the jurisdictions,” she said. “There will come a day when the fund balance is gone and we don’t want to shell shock them.”

Each locality’s individual share of the collective local contribution is based on its average inmate population over a three-year period. This doesn’t equal individual prisoners, but rather inmate days. Currently, Louisa carries 32.1% of the total local contribution or approximately $2.8 million; followed by Orange with 26.77% and approximately $2.3 million; Greene with 17.55% and approximately $1.5 million; Fluvanna with 13.3% and approximately $1.2 million and Madison with 10.27% and approximately $890,000.

The budget uses just under $2 million in fund balance, a large portion of which will be used for capital projects. It also includes approximately $555,000 in capital projects, including $205,000 in equipment replacements.

“We’re at the point where we have to start replacing some of our larger equipment,” Miller said.

Replacements include a new dental chair ($25,000); dish washer and dryer ($50,000); double steamers in the kitchen ($20,000); food cart ($13,000); hot water heater ($20,000); HVAC ($45,000); laundry washing machine and dryer ($20,000); and a zero turn mower ($12,000). Improvement projects include continuing door renovations ($100,000); lift emergency backup panel ($5,300); security glass ($6,000); shower replacements ($15,000); vent cleaning ($75,000); washing machine high voltage circuits ($19,000); and a warehouse expansion and roof ($130,000).

Jail superintendent Frank Dyer said the expansion would double the current warehouse, which was built in 1997 or 1998. The warehouse contains every supply needed for the jail. He said it’s stacked nearly floor to ceiling and has to be expanded to allow for proper storage.

Another piece of equipment that isn’t included in capital, but rather in the training budget, is a firearms training simulator. Dyer said the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) wants reality-based decision making scenarios for training. Currently, training is done at a gun range where trainees solve weapon malfunctions and make decisions that are largely scenario-based.

“You’re dealing with cardboard, letters and numbers,” Dyer said. “You’re not dealing with real life scenarios with a person back there controlling it and adjusting it based on your response.”

He said the approximately $50,000 simulator would be available to use for not only the jail’s officers, but also those of the jail’s localities.

“All agencies could share the opportunity and training experience,” he said. “It shifts it from a jurisdictional burden to multi-jurisdictional. I think it would benefit all the jurisdictions.”

Louisa County Sheriff Donnie Lowe said his agency has one and it’s well worth it.

“I highly recommend it,” he said. “It gets very realistic and is great for de-escalation.”

Also included in the budget is a 1.5% bonus for employees ($106,000, $55,000 of which will come from the compensation board) and an 11% increase in insurance rates. However, Miller said the jail did receive notice that there will be a credit on premiums from this year because the pool has done so well.

On the revenue side, in addition to the approximately $8.7 million in local funding and approximately $2 million from reserves, the budget is balanced using approximately $5.3 million in state funding, an increase of approximately $57,000, and approximately $155,000 in jail sources, which is comprised of interest, work release revenue and refunds. Jail source funding is down nearly $241,000, largely due to the suspension of the work release program due to COVID-19. Also attributing to the decrease is a large drop in interest rates, but Miller said that amount has largely been recovered thanks to the jail’s relatively new housing agreement with Page County in which the county is paying the jail to house its prisoners. The budget also makes use of $800,000 in federal revenue, money the jail receives from housing federal prisoners. This is an increase over the current year of $250,000.

The authority is expected to vote on the proposed budget during its March meeting. It will be presented to county administrators later this month.

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