Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 5, 2013

Stop using new math




Recently there was some discussion on the cost per hour of the medical services provided at the Jefferson County Justice Center during the last few years of housing prisoners from both outside and inside the county.

In December 2004, I was fortunate to become the chairman of the County Board and I immediately saw several areas in the county government that was not in line with good practices of our primary task of keeping the county fiscally sound. One of those areas was the medical costs for our county prisoners for the year 2004 which exceeded $85,000 for our in-county prisoners. I am not condemning any individual in this letter, as I am a believer in the capitalist system of profit and loss in all areas, except government.

Government should be accomplished with the lowest bidder and up until that time, the medical contract had been awarded by means other than bidding. We were facing severe fiscal problems and some very deep cost-cutting procedures were necessary. The County Board, led by myself, Jim Laird and Dexter Edmison, decided the need for bidding this task was necessary and placed it before the board in January 2005. The board overwhelmingly approved this and several other cost cutting ideas that keep this county out of bankruptcy. At no time did this board suggest a payment of $35 per prisoner seen.

Upon taking bids, the Dr. Parks, PA Burwell team was awarded the bid to provide medical services to the Justice Center, and has used that same bid for several years. The sheriff reported to the board in his monthly sheriff's report the hours worked at the jail and off-site, which I am going to assume is time for paperwork, as we do not send prisoners to their office. In my prior editorial, I stated that we paid as much as $700 per hour for some of these services.

If you will file a Freedom of Information request for the sheriff's medical report, you will find that the PA served two hours on site at the jail and one hour off-site, as reported on the February 2011 report.

Now then, Jefferson County schools taught me how to divide $2,000 per month by the number of hours (3) and it comes out to $666.66 per hour for services rendered. Wow! That is mighty close to $700 isn't it?

This cost per prisoner, per day in Jefferson County for the year 2011 was $81.14, and we cannot ignore the additional cost this is causing the taxpayers of this county.

I had a constituent tell me the other day that all the county had to do to make $3 million was to spend $500,000 on medical care in the upcoming year. How sad that we have elected officials that didn't have the same math teachers that I was afforded so many years ago.

Just so you know, the medical cost went from $300,000 per year to $522,000 per year and that's only a 57 percent increase.

Let's stop using new math and start having complete transparency in our county fiscal matters.

Ted Buck

Mt. Vernon