STAR fees add to cost of jail move

Published 9:33 am Friday, February 6, 2015

The cost of moving the county jail to Franklin Furnace goes up and up.

A recent meeting between Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless and representatives from STAR Community Justice Center turned out to add approximately $300,000 to the $1.3 million the sheriff says he will need on top of his current budget to run the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility. The state has offered a 100-bed unit in the ORV to the county to use for its jail with the rest of the center to be used by STAR for planned expansion of its programs.

STAR has offered to provide meals, laundry service, grounds keeping, maintenance, phone and Internet service for the jail. Lawless presented those figures to the county commission at its regular Thursday meeting.

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“To get the jail up and going for Lawrence County I met with STAR over the services they might provide,” Lawless said. “Some are quite expensive.”

Having STAR provide meals and laundry was a cost-savings method that commission president Les Boggs said would be among several strategies to reduce the ORV budget down to $900,000.

According to a figures supplied by STAR, food service would cost the county $2.48 a meal or $271,560 a year for 100 prisoners. Census at the county jail runs from 70 to 100 a day depending on the season.

Of that $2.48 $1.60 covers the cost of food, plates and utensils, dish washing and kitchen and serving equipment. The remainder of $.88 covers kitchen staff.

Right now the average meal at the county jail is $2.01 and is prepared by two cooks who together make, with overtime, approximately $90,000 a year.

STAR has agreed to hire the two cooks to work at its facility, if they choose to make the move. Boggs said the $.88 would cover the cost of those workers.

However, the current salaries for the two cooks equals $.82 per meal or $89,789 a year for 100 inmates compared with $97,455 that STAR would charge.

The next highest item would be a flat rate of $14,000 for laundry.

Currently inmates handle washing uniforms, sheets and towels. Blankets, which are too heavy for the jail’s laundry equipment, are sent to Henthorn’s Cleaners and Launderers along with uniforms needing repairs.

That bill for 2014 was $13,552.15.

On top of these fees STAR would charge the county $7,800 annually to cut grass, clip shrubs and remove snow.

“They had volunteered to do all the grounds work for nothing,” commissioner Bill Pratt said.

“We were told they had to charge a fee,” the sheriff said.

Building maintenance from STAR would cost $35 per visit plus a $25 an hour charge.

“That’s $60 to come through the door,” Lawless said.

Phone would be $100 a month plus fees for local and long distance calls and $400 a month for Internet.

“Those costs we hadn’t figured on,” the sheriff said. “The cost of the ORV continues to rise. It is something to add onto our thinking.”