The Essex County Jail facility.
A 42-percent decline in revenues for the first month of the year at the Essex County Jail has one supervisor concerned.
According to the monthly report of the jail, which was given to the Essex County Public Safety Committee at its Feb. 13 meeting, revenue generated by the jail in January of this year totaled $66,084.90. One year ago, that number was $113,606.66.
“We are down significantly from January 2011,” Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said. “The Essex County inmate count is climbing and the federal border count is declining. We did have a meeting with the Marshall’s and we expressed our concern, and we told them that we still have space. The two federal Marshall’s that came over last week were going back and trying to steer business our way.”
In 2011, Essex County was housing an average of 31.65 federal inmates in the month of January, with a high of 38 and a low of 24. This year, the jail housed an average of 19.3, with a high of 23 (one below 2011’s low total) and a low of 17.
Cutting also said the county has lost out on money it was making by housing inmates from other counties.
“We had a deal with Jefferson County, unfortunately Albany County heard about it and under-cut my rates and they are easier to reach from Watertown than we are, so Jefferson swung their business over,” Cutting said. “In the meantime, I am working with another couple of counties to try and take in some more county boarders, but we are still in the negotiating phase.”
Cutting said they have also lost revenue that was earned from housing inmates from Franklin county.
“Sheriff Mulverhill has brought in some alternatives to incarceration,” Cutting said. “He is still running right at capacity and we have an open invitation if he runs over to bring them here.”
Inmates from other counties averaged 6.5 in January 2011, with a high of 8. In 2012, that number dropped to 2.9, with a high of 5, along with a period where there were no out of county inmates housed.
North Elba Supervisor and County Board Vice-Chairman Roby Politi said he was concerned about where these numbers may lead.
“If things continue, you will have a deficit of over $500,000 in revenue,” Politi said. “If you are down over $500,000 in revenue this year, that is a huge hit. What are your plans?”
“We are talking to Putnam County,” Cutting said. “We had discussions with them last week concerning some of their overflow inmates, but Rensselaer County just opened up a huge addition and they are a lot more central than we are.”
Cutting said again that he was also trying to work with federal marshalls as well as other counties.
Cutting also said that the jail is being filled with more in-county inmates. While federal and other inmate numbers have gone down drastically between 2011 and 2012, total inmate count has gone up, from an average of 70.5 in 2011 (80 high, 62 low) to 72.6 in 2012 (79 high, 66 low).
“Our own numbers are increasing and the more the Essex County inmates increase, the less room there are for boarders,” Cutting said.
Politi said his biggest concern was if the trend of the first month of the year continued throughout 2012.
“What was budgeted for 2012 in terms of revenue for the Jail,” Politi said. “I mean, we are going to be down over $500,000 if this keeps up.”
“It is early in the year but it is conceivable,” Cutting replied.