County Manager Daniel Palmer and Sheriff Richard Cutting speak to members of the Essex County Public Safety Committee.
The quest for more answers on staffing and overtime at the Essex County Jail led to supervisors agreeing to tour the facility next week.
Supervisors will walk through the facility before their regular committee meetings May 21. The tour of the jail was requested by Board Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay along with Schroon Supervisor Michael Marnell after discussion on staffing and overtime.
“I think that it is time that we take a group of supervisors up to the facility and you walk us through and show it to us,” Douglas said. “You have put a lot of effort into this to try and cut the costs of overtime. I think that you are doing everything that you possibly can.”
During the May 14 Public Safety Committee meeting, Sheriff Richard Cutting said that it costs roughly $7.92 to house one inmate per day.
“Each inmate averages out to cost me that per day,” Cutting said. “It costs Essex County about $110,000 to board these inmates to feed, clothe and care.”
Some supervisors were quick to point out that the statistic did not take into account other factors.
“That number does not include the cost on maintaining the facility, the bond and the costs with the building,” North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said.
“That number does not include staffing, either,” Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava added.
“I don't want people to think that it costs us $110,00 and we made $1.3 million, so we are in the black,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. “The money goes to pay for the upkeep and the mortgage on the building and if this money was not there, then it would all be on the taxpayers backs.”
“I did not put that in because they have to be there anyways,” Cutting said. “The place has to be staffed. This number is the additional cost that it takes to bring in boarders.”
When it came to jail revenues, Cutting said the county was starting to house inmates from Jefferson County again. They had previously entered into a deal with the new Albany County Jail, but wanted to bring some inmates to Essex County during the summer months.
The sheriff added that the decision was made in part by weather and in part by the service the jail provides.
“We treat inmates like our own from wherever they are,” Cutting said. “Other places are a little picky. A lot of places look at how each facility treats the inmates. Jefferson County has told us that they will take all of them to Albany County in the winter because the roads are better, but they are sending some back here now.”
Cutting said the issue of staffing and overtime was not going to go away, especially in the coming months.
“This next year is going to be a bad time for overtime because I have a number of pregnancies where officers will be applying for a medical leave and I am going to have to fill in for those,” he said.