By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
The Greene County Board of Supervisors had an unusual item on their agenda at their January 27th meeting – simply a discussion of the Central Virginia Regional Jail budget. Typically the agenda has a rezoning request or a presentation by an agency. The reason the budget of an outside agency drew so much attention is the significant impact to Greene County’s FY16 budget.
Back on September 13, 2011 the Greene County Board of Supervisors voted on a resolution to accept the expansion of the Central Virginia Regional Jail. The project will add 200 new beds, increasing the rated capacity of the facility to 445. The expansion area of the project also includes a new kitchen, replacing the old. The existing intake and booking area and magistrate’s office will be renovated and enlarged by taking over the space vacated by the kitchen. Based on a use formula, Greene’s share of the cost came out to be 15.92% of the total.
Supervisor Davis Lamb, Ruckersville District , the representative from the Board of Supervisors on the Jail Authority from Greene County (along with Sheriff Steve Smith), spoke first.
Lamb went on to compare inmate cost per day of other jails in the vicinity. Albemarle/Charlottesville cost $85.55, Middle River (in Augusta County) cost $75.36 and Culpeper cost $81.14 vs. Central Virginia Regional cost $60.97.
County Administrator John Barkley indicated that with the current data it will be a large budget increase – anywhere from $6-800,000. As of now the state has not determined what portion, if any, that they will pick up. The cost increase is having the jail fully functional which may not happen on day one.
Lamb felt that services need to be provided to allow rehabilitation to occur and hopefully the individual can return to Greene County and be a productive citizen.
Supervisor Jim Frydl, Midway District, was shocked to see the cost to the county doubling for a 50% increase in capacity at the jail. To put the additional cost into perspective he equated it to an increase of 4.8 cents on an average property tax bill or a 6.7% increase just for the jail. If the schools asked for this size of an increase, the Board would be persecuted for contemplating such a funding request.
Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District, understood that Greene agreed to pay their share of the construction cost but not the operating costs. Frydl corrected him that some operating costs were agreed to but not all of them. Chairman David Cox, Monroe District, explained that all counties that participate – Orange, Madison, Louisa and Greene – are being hit with this increase.
Jail Superintendent Floyd Aylor addressed the Board. He stated that the jail is far from having their new budget completed and they are still working on the final budget. However, he stated that the Board of Supervisors should read the agreement which stated that the county would absorb operating costs of the jail. Aylor said he couldn’t help it if the information that the jail sends out doesn’t reach the Board of Supervisors. He indicated the changes in staff in Greene County since the jail expansion project started may have contributed to the information not reaching them. He also indicated that he was tired of being told that the Board was not aware of the cost increase.
Martin asked Aylor if the increased costs were in last year’s jail budget. Aylor responded that it was not in the current year but it was in the five year projection and he indicated that the $60 cost per inmate was extremely competitive. Cox asked Aylor to keep the Board apprised of any changes.
Under the following item “Matters from the Public”, former supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton stated that on July 10, 2011 the jail expansion was approved by the Greene Board of Supervisors and he felt it was a considerable bargain to the county. He recalls seeing financial statements from the jail on a monthly basis during his term on the Board of Supervisors. He questioned why there is a question now when the Board previously approved paying their share. He suggested that supervisors pay attention to detailed reports especially on such a major investment in the regional jail.
Later in the meeting, when County Administrator John Barkley gave his report, he indicated that in the upcoming budget the county may have to “bite the bullet” on the jail cost. At this point in the meeting Aylor had left the meeting.
Under the “Other Matters from the Board” agenda item, Frydl stated that he felt Aylor was “very cavalier” in his comments and to his knowledge none of the other counties were aware that the cost for the regional jail would double.
The Free Enterprise Forum reviewed the minutes from The Greene County Board of Supervisors workshop on September 13, 2011:
Mr. Frydl asked if there will be a significant increase in operating costs. Mr. Aylor felt there would be some increase in operation costs. The largest expenses are medical costs and staff.
Greene County is not alone in their lack of understanding regarding the scope of the jail’s financial demands. Regarding the December Meeting of the Jail Board, Gracie Hart Brooks of the Madison Eagle reported:
Aylor said he believes the localities had ample notice that their jail costs were increasing, but declined to comment definitively as to if the December meeting was the first time they had seen real numbers. However, the theme at last week’s jail authority board meeting was sticker shock as the county administrators asked for the creation of a committee to look at budget alternatives and to get a handle on the numbers they were presented last month….
“We’re trying to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can to prepare our [county] budgets,” [Fluvanna County Administrator Steve] Nichols said. “We’re not recommending a budget or approving a budget, but this has a dramatically big impact on our counties. We need to know and present this as part of our [county] budgets. This is a big sea change compare to other years.”
The net cost to Greene County will depend on what the regional jail’s final budget comes out to be and how much, if any, state funding will be received to subsidize the impact to the county. Lamb encouraged all residents in Greene County to contact their state representatives to request that the state absorb some of the regional jail cost.
The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Greene County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
Photo Credits: Daily Progress, Central Virginia Regional Jail