With new sources of revenue established for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the deficit budget adopted for Two Bridges Regional Jail in June has been revised. The Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multicounty Jail Authority voted 7-1 at its Wednesday, Sept. 14 meeting to amend the 2016-2017 budget to reflect a perfect balance between the jail’s estimated $7.29 million in revenue and $7.29 million in expenditures.
Todd McPhee, a member of the budget committee, was the lone vote in opposition to the amended budget. He said he voted against the budget because the budget committee met when he was unable to attend. “I won’t vote for (the budget) if I’m excluded from the meetings,” McPhee said.
The amended budget reinstates four corrections officer positions that were frozen in the previous fiscal year, in addition to a part-time clerk to perform administrative duties starting in January. The part-time clerk is the only new position in the budget, said Col. Mark Westrum, Two Bridges Regional Jail correctional administrator.
The amended budget of $7,297,980 is an 11 percent or $745,456 increase from the 2015-2016 budget of $6,552,524. The majority of increases in the budget are due to personnel, which accounts for about $506,608 of the increase, Westrum said.
The amended budget also includes funding for a maintenance truck and an upgrade to the jail’s phone system – capital improvement projects that have been on hold for several years, Westrum said. “We have the money in this year’s budget so I’m asking for it,” Westrum said.
The budget also includes $91,442 for the first-year payment on a loan taken out to finance the replacement of the jail’s air-handling units.
The expenditure for inmate medical and dental care increased from $21,250 in 2015-2016 to $75,000 in 2016-2017, an increase of 252 percent.
According to Westrum, less than three months into the fiscal year, a single inmate from Sagadahoc County has cost the jail about $40,000 in medical and dental expenses. The jail is obligated to cover medical and dental expenses for inmates with longer sentences or pretrial periods, he said.
In the original 2016-2017 budget approved in June, Two Bridges Regional Jail was projecting $6.58 million in revenue and $6.69 million in expenses. It was the first deficit budget approved by the jail authority in Two Bridges’ history.
Since the budget was approved in June, Two Bridges Regional Jail has secured contracts with Kennebec and Oxford counties to house their inmates, increasing the jail’s revenue for the current fiscal year. Westrum is already thinking of the 2017-2018 budget, he said, and asked for the jail authority’s permission to continue dialogue with Knox and Oxford counties about future contracts.
The authority reached consensus to grant permission. While dialogue will continue about future contracts, Westrum said the conversation and the 2017-2018 budget will largely depend on the action the Legislature will take regarding the county corrections system in the next legislative session.