Sheriff Attributes Budget Shortfall To Jail Closure

(Juneau) The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office is seeing a hit in its budget as a result of closing the old jail house. In July, the county board voted in favor of shutting down the facility at end of 2018 and against building an expansion onto the newer detention facility. The nearly 60-year-old structure had been plagued with issues stemming from outdated video equipment, jail code problems and rundown mechanical systems.

The expansion plans, proposed by Sheriff Dale Schmidt, would have added two new housing pods on to the main jail. That plan would allow the Sheriff’s Office to continue its contract with U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees which brings in revenue.

With the reduction of around 75 federal contracts, the Sheriff’s Office has seen a loss of $490-thousand dollars in the final months of 2018. That includes a $100-thousand loss in transportation revenue lost from picking-up federal inmates and bringing them to Dodge County. Discussions are still being had on how to cover the shortfall.  Schmidt says he requested to push back the closure until early 2019 to allow time to adjust.

Schmidt says if the jail closed in February he is confident his budget would have been in the black. While Schmidt says that decision will ultimately be up to the county board, he did point to his office’s ability to return surpluses in his budget to the county’s general fund in the last three years.

Schmidt says any changes to his 2019 budget could affect services his department offers and the public who relies on them. He says he still hopes to return money to the general fund this year.

There will be a joint meeting next month of the Finance and Judicial and Public Protection committee’s to discuss how to address the shortfall. Finance Committee Chair Dave Frohling tells us that it is possible that the county finds a way to again realize revenue from federal contract beds in the long term. However, in the short-term he says the shortfall may likely be addressed with monies from the county’s undesignated general fund.

 

Listen to our conversation with Sheriff Dale Schmidt here: