Jail costs to the county were down considerably in April, but corrections expenses still comprise more than a half-million dollars in the new $6.73 million budget approved by Lyon Fiscal Court last week.
Magistrates gave final reading on Thursday to a new spending plan that begins July 1. The jail fund includes $530,760 for housing and transporting inmates, salaries and other costs associated with county corrections. The county has no jail, but is responsible for the costs incurred to other jails for holding local offenders.
With an increase in arrests and long waits for offenders’ day in court, the jail budget is double what it was two years ago. Measures have been taken in the last year to reduce costs, such as adding a temporary judge to both district and circuit courts, but projected expenses are expected to remain high.
Judge-Executive Wade White said housing prisoners elsewhere is still less expensive to taxpayers than building a jail in Lyon County.
Over the last few months, the cost to the county for having local offenders housed elsewhere has been around $25,000 monthly. In April, that number was slashed by two-thirds because of the pandemic. Fewer crimes have been committed during the state of emergency, and many offenders have been cited to court rather than clog local jails awaiting a hearing.
But Sheriff Brent White told magistrates to not expect numbers like that too much longer.
“I do believe you’ll seek a spike after June 1,” he warned.
That date is when Kentucky’s court system has a modified reopening in order to host civil and criminal cases that have been on hold during the outbreak.
“I expect that to start opening things up as far as people being incarcerated a little bit easier,” the sheriff added.
The new budget includes nearly $4 million in the general fund for general government, public protection, animal control, election costs, health and sanitation, recreation and culture and more. The $1.76 million road fund took an almost $100,000 hit from a reduction in county road aid due to the affects of the coronavirus pandemic on travel and the state’s gas tax.
The county’s largest source of general fund revenue is from real property taxes at $750,000. Personal property levies are expected to generate $105,000 for general government, while motor vehicle taxes will add another $145,000.
In other action
Mmagistrates approved a resolution to seek a Kentucky Office of Homeland Security grant to beef up election security.
Sheriff White said he and Eddyville Police Chief Jaime Green are working on a grant that would see portable security cameras put up at polling locations during voting. This idea was conceived in conjunction with County Clerk Lori Duff.
When not in use for elections, the cameras could be used to monitor remote locations like the county park.
The entire Lyon County 2020-21 budget can be viewed online at HeraldLedger.com.