Mt. Vernon Register-News

September 20, 2013

County budget in red by $300,000

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — County officials are trying to find ways to cut expenses in its proposed 2013-2014 Fiscal Year budget.

During a meeting of the Fiscal Committee on Thursday night, it was reported the current budget is now $316,000 over budget.

While a large amount of time was spent on looking at medial expenses for the Jefferson County Justice Center, the committee was unable to come up with any concrete ideas on how this may be accomplished. County officials are still toying with the idea of finding a local doctor and hiring nurses to cut expenses. Advanced Health Care was hired during this fiscal year to treat and manage the health care of prisoners at the Justice Center.

Chairman Robert White was adamant that at least $100,000 could be shaved off medical expenses, even by paying a local physician $5,000 per month and employing local nurses. The county already has a full time nurse on staff at an annual salary of $25,459.

The new budget includes a recall of some county employees laid off after ICE prisoners were vacated from the county jail last December, including two deputies and a telecommunicator, according to information provided.

Administrative Assistant Suzy Tate said the 2013-14 Fiscal Year budget does not include any expenses or revenue from ICE, although Sheriff Roger Mulch indicated ICE had previously indicated they would conduct an assessment survey of the jail in October. That led to a discussion about the costs associated with having ICE prisoners back, including the expense of having a minimum of 32 correctional officers on staff. There are currently 17 correctional officers on staff, Captain Randy Pollard reported.

Board member Jim Laird objected to that possibility, saying, “I don’t see any way we bring ICE back.”

In the end, Fiscal Committee Chairman John Keele requested a meeting be held on Oct. 3 to further discuss the budget. All officeholders have been requested to attend the meeting, along with board members not part of the committee.

During the Land, Tax and Appointments Committee meeting, Nicole Villani was appointed to serve on the Merit Commission on a 2-1 vote. Joey McDermott abstained from voting. Kevin Sargent was first nominated for the position, but the Committee voted in a 2-2 deadlock.

William Armstrong was recommended to serve on the 708 Mental Health Board; Eddie Lee was recommended to serve on the Mt. Vernon Airport Authority; and the recommendations of Mary Brown, JoAnne Cox, Jan Pigg and Jeff Williams for re-appointments to the Round Knoll Cemetery Board were accepted.