County Board Agrees To Tap General Fund For $500K Shortfall

(Juneau) The Dodge County Board approved a resolution Tuesday night to cover a shortfall in the sheriff’s office budget. The county board voted last year to close the old jail, referred to as J-Pod, reducing a longtime revenue stream and leading to a $496-thousand-dollar budgetary deficit for 2018. For years, the old jail house had housed federal inmates for money. The resolution approved at Tuesday night’s meeting uses monies from the unassigned general fund to cover the shortfall.

Before taking to a vote, Board Member David Guckenburger referenced a report he recently received titled “Preliminary 2018 Budget Versus Actual Analysis.” Guckenburger says that early estimates in that report show that three departments will not return money to the general fund. That includes the county board, which Guckenburger says is a result of extra meetings that were authorized by the board; the county clerk, stemming from several unexpected primary elections; and the sheriff’s office.

Guckenburger added that the report also shows something more valuable: that the county has some good department heads and some bad department heads. He added that he does not hold Sheriff Dale Schmidt completely responsible as he is accountable to the voters. After Guckenberger’s comments, Schmidt left the meeting.

While the blame has been placed on the loss of contract beds for the shortfall, Supervisor Kira Sheahan-Malloy cites other reasons for the deficit including over-estimates in federal inmate revenues, workers comp miscalculations, underfunded grant matches and overtime expenses.

Finance Committee Chair Dave Frohling says there was not a dollar-for-dollar offset when the old jail closed. He says when the revenues dropped, the expenses to operate J-Pod did not decrease at the same pace. County Administrator Jim Mielke says his office will work with the board and department heads to ensure that this problem does not happen in 2019.