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Lincoln County jail under budget but overcrowded

September 12, 2012|By Ben Kleppinger | ben@theinteriorjournal.com
  • Lincoln County Jailer David Gooch provides his quarterly report to the Lincoln County Fiscal Court Tuesday.
Ben Kleppinger / ben@theinteriorjournal.com

STANFORD — The Lincoln County Regional Jail dealt with more prisoner overcrowding than had been anticipated during the past fiscal year, but still came in under-budget by tens of thousands of dollars, Jailer David Gooch told Lincoln magistrates Tuesday.

The jail housed on average housed 105.7 prisoners per day during the fiscal year, Gooch said, which is about 147 percent of the jail's official capacity.

During the last two quarters of the fiscal year, the daily prisoner average was higher — 106.3 prisoners per day in January, February and March, and 106.5 prisoners per day in April, May and June, according to Gooch's quarterly report.

Gooch said when the jail's budget was put in place last year, it was anticipating an average daily population of 90 prisoners per day (125 percent of official capacity).

"We were significantly overcrowded for the fiscal year based on what we put in our budget," Gooch said.

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But despite extra prisoners, the jail still managed to keep total operating costs down.

The jail spent about $32,145 less than it was budgeted to spend, according to reports from Gooch and County Treasurer Teresa Padgett.

The jail also needed less money transferred into its account from the county's general fund.

The jail was budgeted to need $694,428 in funds transferred from the county's general fund, but only wound up needing $645,000 in transferred funds — $49,428 less than originally budgeted for, according to the reports.

"It's a pretty good report from a financial perspective," Gooch said.

Back-up generator generates tension

Things got a little less friendly when Gooch brought up the issue of the jail's new back-up power generator, which he said isn't servicing the jail's needs as completely as hoped.

"It's not working much better than the old generator," Gooch said. "It fires up better than the old generator when the air conditioning isn't on, but when both of the HVAC units are on, it won't power up."

Gooch said he's been talking with electricians about the problem. Gooch said one electrician is "confident" he can work out a solution involving more gradual start-ups for the HVAC units, once he talks with the company that installed one of the jail's units.

As long as the generator can't start up with the HVAC units running, the jail is at risk for not passing inspection, Gooch said.

The jailer said other issues with the new generator include that it hasn't yet passed a state building inspection and that it may need a new power conduit.

"While I certainly appreciate Judge Executive 'Jimbo' Adams' effort to attempt to replace and upgrade the jail's generator, I believe that there has been a series of miscommunications … about the selection and installation of the generator," Gooch wrote in his quarterly report.

Gooch wrote that each jail in Kentucky is required by law to have "equipment necessary to maintain essential lights, power, HVAC, and communications in an emergency situation."

Gooch wrote he believes a generator for the jail was purchased based on the parameters of getting the most power possible for $20,000, and it appears the exact power needs of the jail in an emergency situation were not considered.

"I now believe that I was not successful in making Judge Executive Adams understand (these) requirements, of which he is, of course, presumed to have constructive knowledge by virtue of the fact that they are contained in (state law)," he wrote.

Judge-Executive Jim Adams said he doesn't completely understand how the new generator isn't far out-performing the old generator, which was a "1940s" model that needed "constant" repairs, but acknowledged installation is not yet fully completed.

Adams said there hasn't yet been any communication between the electrician and the HVAC company — something that needs to happen in order for the problem to be resolved.

"I don't know what our problem is, but it seems to me it's more of a personal problem between you and I than it is this generator," Adams said to David Gooch.

"I think that you and I have a communication problem," David Gooch responded. "I don't know if it's a personal problem. I think we're both getting frustrated. … I certainly appreciate you taking this on."

"We're trying our best," Adams said, pointing out that there are more than 40 people employed at the jail and he wants to keep the jail open.

Magistrate David Faulkner said he is unhappy with Faulkner's report on the generator because it amounts to "a soft attack on the judge's attempts" to keep the jail running.

"The reason I'm upset basically is the way you presented this," Faulkner said to Gooch. "This judge — I've sat with him for five years. He has tried as hard as anybody that I've worked with to keep this jail open and he's never made it personal. You made this personal. … I don't like it. I don't agree with it. I'm sorry, but that's just the way I feel. Nothing you can say is going to change my mind."

Gooch and Faulkner exchanged a few more words before Adams said he would like to move on to the next item on the agenda.

Gooch said after the meeting he did not mean for his report to be a personal attack on Adams.

"I consider Jimbo to be my friend and a hard-working judge-executive," Gooch said. "Im saddened that my report could be perceived as a personal attack."

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