Jail Changes Bring Budget Challenges for Greene County

The change in plans for the Greene County Jail is causing some issues with the long term budget plans for the county.

County budget staff revealed at the Commission’s daily briefing that while current projections have the county ending the year with a likely surplus of $860,000 in their General Revenue 1 account, the county will still enter the next budget cycle behind approximately $1.56 million.

The reason falls squarely on the planning for the future Greene County Jail.

In the original planning by the County Budget Office, there were job positions allotted for the new Greene County Jail. The job slots were based on the initial plans for the jail and estimated staffing needs for that jail design. The jail would not have been completely ready to go for the 2020 budget, so those positions would not need to actually spend the full budgeted amount on salaries because of vacancies with that number of employees, thus becoming a savings to the county against the budget.

Working under the assumption that savings would be there as scheduled, the budget office worked a “spend down” in this year’s budget of about $2.7 million from the county surplus. The deficit spending this year would have been offset by a projected $2.9 million savings in the 2020 budget.

The new plans for the Greene County Jail include a system that would allow for the same amount of inmates as previously anticipated to be covered by less staff. The cost reduction in staffing won’t be finalized until the actual design of the jail is approved; yet it will be less than the original planned staffing levels for the old format for the jail’s layout. The hiring of those employees will also be later than scheduled because of the delay in planning and construction of the jail.

This means the county budget office needs to approach the upcoming budget looking for ways to cut future expenses.

“We’ll be going through the budgets looking for areas that we can trim,” Greene County Budget Director Jeff Scott told OI. “Some county departments will have a little tighter budget than this year.”

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