LIMA — As Allen County Commissioners and the county’s budget commission prepare allocation totals for 2019, Allen County is looking to boost at least one item for next year — the budget for the Allen County jail.
Lt. Andre McConnahea, public information officer with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, said the jail has seen an unexpected increase in the daily average number of inmates at the jail. In the last nine months, the daily average occupancy for the jail stands at 275 — up by 10 compared to 2017’s 265 average daily occupancy.
That increase is expected to cost the county an additional $237,250 per year.
Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg said the county is shuffling some funds to deal with the unexpected jump, and final budget totals for 2018 should still align with the roughly $27 million budget prepared for 2018.
The Allen County jail was built with a bed capacity for 202 inmates. As of Thursday, current inmate occupancy stands at 268.
McConnahea said the sheriff’s office doesn’t have enough data to say exactly why the jail is seeing increased occupancy numbers as of now, although the opioid crisis may be a variable affecting the jail’s crowding.
Currently, 110 inmates require some sort of medication.
Of note, McConnahea said, is the number of women being incarcerated in the jail this year. On average, jailed men outnumber jailed women by a four to one ratio in Allen County, but this year, roughly six out of every 10 of the occupant increase have been women. That has boosted the jail’s number of women occupants by roughly 10 percent in the last year.
As for staffing, the jail remains at good levels, McConnahea said, and the jail has been able to cut the amount of overtime paid, saving taxpayers $35,000.
Begg said the county’s budget commission is already planning to deal with the additional costs — estimated at $65 per inmate per day — that comes with higher occupancy for 2019.
Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said commissioners are currently working with county department heads to find out what’s necessary for the 2019 budget and that deliberations are ongoing.
Noonan said county offices act as agencies tasked with carrying out state laws, and while the state can mandate certain actions, it doesn’t always provide the funds to do so. Even with those additional demands, Noonan said the county’s current budget is staying within its means.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.