By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Over the last three Greene County Board of Supervisors meetings there has been significant discussion and dissension regarding the increasing costs of the expansion and operation of the Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ).
At the most recent meeting (2/24) Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) started giving a general activity report of the Jail. Lamb serves as the BOS’s representative on on the Jail Authority Board of Directors.
This quickly led to a in depth discussion about next year’s proposed jail budget impact to Greene County. Vice Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway District) asked Lamb, “Why the dramatic increase in the next year operating expense budget and why such a short notice on the issue?”
Frydl further asked Lamb why Jail Superintendent Floyd Aylor didn’t answer the questions that the Greene Board of Supervisors sent to the last jail meeting via Lamb?
Frydl doesn’t understand why the full impact of costs are being budgeted while there is a three month training process of new personnel and the expansion will not open until the fall of 2016?
Frydl further questioned why, in a span of only two days (after the last Board of Supervisors meeting), Aylor added approximately $1 million for transporting prisoners to other facilities.
Frydl went on to state that the latest budget shows an increase of $425,000 or a 55% increase. It is a huge increase to be explained to the voters of Greene County.
Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) expressed concern about the poor timing in the budget process of the CVRJ and the impact to Greene County. Up until December, there was no indication of a significant increase and then in December, 2014 Aylor announced over a 50% increase in operating cost allocation to Greene County.
Lamb responded that there are a lot of pieces to the prison budget.
Martin stated he understood the complexity but all five counties that utilize the regional jail were caught by surprise by the size of the budget increase. Residents of Greene County are pushing back on a $10 facility fee on the water and sewer bill, Martin can’t imagine what residents will say when they see the cost increase for the jail in the upcoming budget.
Martin continued to state that the communication between the Greene Board of Supervisors and Aylor has been poor. He was not impressed when Aylor spoke at the last board meeting and Martin questions who is serving whom.
Frydl questioned Lamb why the alternative budget that the five counties had presented at the last jail meeting wasn’t considered? Lamb’s only reply was that if you can find a better plan to bring it to the meeting and there are many variables. Frydl asked Lamb if he was ok with the jails budget to which there was no reply.
Supervisor Eddie Deane (At Large) claimed that the school’s budget request varies from year to year so he can understand some fluctuations. He further stated that Greene has committed to fund the regional jail – what options do we have?
There was also a discussion regarding the CVRJ’s reserve fund which today totals approximately $5 million. The annual audit states that only $1.5 million is required leaving Frydl to question why the extra $3.5 million wasn’t being used to reduce operating expenses? Lamb stated that it is up to the CVRJ Board to determine how to handle the reserve fund.
Chairman David Cox (Monroe District) indicated the more that he reads the more confused he has become. There are some big personality problems and he is tired of reading of the drama. We need to look at the overall picture and do our best to fund our part.
Frydl questioned – should Greene fund their share regardless how much it is?
Cox asked if Barkley had anything to share related to the jail budget. Barkley reminded the Board of Supervisors that the jail’s administrative board can approve anything over Aylor’s recommendations. And that Greene County will be hard pressed to swallow a 50+% increase just like the other four counties.
Sheriff Steve Smith – who serves on the jail authority with Lamb – asked if he could address the Board. He suggested to the Board that he invite Aylor to come to the next board meeting and try to address the concerns that board members still have before the next jail meeting when their budget will be finalized.
Frydl had no expectation that Aylor would answer questions if he did attend a board meeting. Deane would be agreeable to another dialogue.
Martin asked if Smith would also ask Aylor if he would consider the five county budget rather than an answer of it “being above his pay grade”?
It was suggested to Smith to invite Aylor to the budget workshop scheduled for March 4th rather than wait until the first Board of Supervisor meeting in March. Smith told the board that he would communicate to Aylor the request to attend the workshop to help clarify the questions that still exist with some board members.
As an afterthought, Martin asked his fellow board members if they would be willing to ask Mr. Lamb to vote against the jails budget?
Lamb then asked if the board would have an open mind when they meet with Aylor on March 4th. Cox made a request of the Supervisors to treat Aylor with respect and hope that Aylor would act the same.
Finally, when Delegate Rob Bell was asked to give an update on state funding for the CVRJ, he indicated that David Reynolds (Legal Fiscal Analyst on the House Appropriations Committee) stated that the state would provide $200,000 for operating costs as well as 11 paid positions.
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.