After months of negotiations stymied by the uncertainty surrounding state funding for county jails, Two Bridges Regional Jail has reached an agreement to house Waldo County inmates for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The $1.2 million contract was approved by Waldo County commissioners on June 26 and by the Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multicounty Jail Authority July 1.
Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brett Strout was the jail authority’s only opposing vote to the contract.
With agreement reached with Waldo County, Two Bridges Correctional Administrator Col. Mark Westrum presented a two-month budget for July and August to the jail authority. Despite projecting a deficit of $58,350 at the end of August, the two-month budget of approximately $1.1 million was unanimously approved.
According to the framework of the agreement, Two Bridges Regional Jail will house Waldo County’s inmates from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 at a cost of $1.2 million, which will cover the medical and pharmaceutical expenses of the inmates. According to Westrum, Waldo County would like to pay for the contract on a monthly basis.
However, it would be better for Two Bridges’ budget if Waldo County made payments quarterly, Westrum said.
A formal contract solidifying the negotiated agreement is in development and will be sent to Waldo County to sign off on, jail authority members said.
The uncertainty surrounding An Act to Reverse Jail Consolidation called into question the negotiating authority of the jail authority, extending the process of reaching an agreement with Waldo County.
The legislation, finalized by the Legislature June 30, prevents receiving jails, such as Two Bridges, from charging per diem boarding rates for out-of-county prisoners. It is unclear from the legislation if the formula to distribute state funding to county jails will distribute funds to receiving jails housing out-of-county inmates, jail authority members said.
The legislation, however, does allow receiving jails to enter into contracts with counties to house their inmates. The approved contract with Waldo County will allow Two Bridges to maintain its mission as a “flagship jail” and house prisoners from outside counties.
The Two Bridges Regional Jail budget for July and August projects expenses of $1,101,991 and revenue of $1,043,642 – leaving the jail with a $58,350 deficit at the end of August.
“This was a real ordeal putting this together,” Westrum said. Jail revenue for the two-month budget incorporates state, federal, and Waldo County prisoners. The projected amount for boarding other out-of-county inmates, however, is $0.
Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties’ tax dollars are the largest source of revenue for Two Bridges in the two-month budget at $804,977.
Jail authority members projected that Two Bridges will have a surplus of approximately $20,000 from the recently ended 2014-2015 fiscal year, which was incorporated into the budget.
The $1.1 million in expenditures for July and August is the minimum amount needed to continue operations, Westrum said. The lion’s share of the expenditures is for personnel, followed by contractual and professional services, and utilities.
“I’ve cut everything there is to cut,” Westrum said.