Butler County Undersheriff Tony Wilhite came before the board of county commissioners at the meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27 requesting approval for the purchase of 15 new Dodge Charger patrol cars to replace vehicles in the fleet with four years of service and mileage greater than 100,000 miles.
Before going forward with such a purchase, the board of commissioners spoke with Wilhite about the Butler County Jail's revenue deficit and going over budget. The jail fund is part of the budget for the Sheriff's Office.
County Commissioner Ed Myers shared that the jail fund's deficit to date from the start of 2018 is around $70,000 so far, and the projected deficit for the end of the year is roughly $435,000 if trends stay the same as they are now. Last year, the county jail was short about $660,000. Housing revenue inmates is a major factor involved with bringing in money for the jail; the Sheriff's Office didn't house enough inmates at the jail last year to be on budget, and the inmate count still fails to hit the targeted numbers this year.
"If we wanted, somehow by the end of the year, to pull that deficit all the way back down to zero and end up with a balanced budget for 2018, right now, we would need about 6,720 dollars per day coming into the jail to cover the ongoing expenses as well as sort of reduce, or retire, the about 70,000 [dollars] of jail deficit that's been accumulated," Myers said.
Presently, the jail makes $5,329 in daily revenue. It houses 161 total inmates – of which, 71 are Butler County inmates, and the rest are revenue-producing. The jail facility has capacity to hold 230 inmates.
The Sheriff's Office got rid of inmates at the start of last year out of concern for safety since the jail was understaffed. After the Detention Officer Retention Incentive Program started on Feb. 1, 2017, staffing went up overall – albeit never to the level of fully staffed. That program terminated Dec. 31, 2017, and the jail is currently understaffed by eight people. The Detention Facility Revenue Incentive Policy was approved July 11, 2017 in order to reward employees at the jail for hitting targeted revenue goals. In an effort to generate the lacking revenue, the county also increased the per diem rate last year for housing inmates and has been continually trying to gain more revenue inmates. Yet, the jail is still short of what they need on both fronts – employees and inmates. Wilhite stated at Tuesday's meeting that it's a strong possibility Butler County will be able to house some of Sedgwick County's inmates starting this summer, which would help bring in revenue.
The board of county commissioners ultimately expressed that they didn't want to approve the purchase 15 new vehicles while there's still a significant revenue problem at the jail right now, which negatively affects the Sheriff's Office budget. However, Captain Don Currier communicated that, at minimum, the Sheriff's Office needs two patrol cars even if they don't get all 15 at the moment. Taking that into consideration, the board of commissioners approved the purchase of two new Dodge Chargers from Davis Moore Automotive in Wichita in the amount of $23,300 each. The board tabled the purchase of the other 13 vehicles for 30 days and will watch the jail's inmate count and revenue in the meantime.
Also concerning the county jail, the board of commissioners approved an amendment to the contract with CBM Managed Services, the company that has provided meals for the jail since 2009. This contract has been renewed yearly, and the only increases the company has added are due to the consumer price index (CPI) increase for food. The latest amendment calls for an increase of approximately 1.7 percent, which is in line with the 2017 CPI for food. With the amendment, the county's cost per meal is now $1.57 when the inmate count is 201 or more. This increases to $1.68 when the meal count is between 171 and 200 and increases to $1.88 when the meal count has dropped to 170 and below. CBM has offered no price increase through March 2019, and the company has indicated they will not request an increase of more than 3 percent through March 2021.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a special event permit and a cereal malt beverage special event permit for Mercedes Camac to have a barn sale, titled Vintage Villa Barn Sale, on property located at 4446 SW 210th St. in Douglass on April 21. Vendors will come set up tables to sell their crafts and antiques, and there will be a beer garden as well.
Community Development Director David Alfaro presented the following property items to the board of commissioners:an eight-acre, plus or minus, homestead lot split for Stewart and Karen Koehn on property primarily used for farming activities that's located at 5803 NW 150th St. in Burns, with the placement of a 71-acre, plus or minus, agricultural preservation overlay (APO) a five-acre homestead lot split for Kevin Polk on property primarily used for farming activities that's located at 16620 SW 130th St. in Rose Hill, with the placement of a 35-acre APO a small, three-lot plat for Donna Wilkinson for a development called Seglem Farms located at 1682 SW 100th St. in Augusta a change the zoning on a three-acre tract of land from AG-40 to rural residential for David Simms on 43 acres located at 13790 SW Prairie Creek Road just outside the city limits of Andover, which will allow his daughter the ability to build a single-family residence on the newly created tract
The board approved all four items.