Sheriff Seeks 'Corrections' In Budget
KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 7:10 am
In presenting his first budget request as Sheriff of Cannon County, Darrell Young is looking to cut expenditures in some areas. and increase them in others.
The largest increase Sheriff Young is seeking is an additional $59,031 for guards for the Cannon County Jail.
Sheriff Young told members of the Law Enforcement Committee of the Cannon County Commission Tuesday night he does not have enough guards to properly staff the facility.
“I am asking for two more corrections officer, but I really need four,” the sheriff said. Currently the department has eight corrections officers.
In total, Sheriff Young’s budget request for fiscal year 2011-2012 is $1,668,765 to operate both the sheriff’s department and the jail. That’s an increase of $97,359.94 over the $1,571,405.06 allotted for the current fiscal year. It also includes money for a new patrol unit.
One way in which the sheriff proposes saving money is by contracting with a company to provide medical care to jail inmates. Brent Deweese of Southern Health Partners presented a proposal to members of the Law Enforcement Committee at Tuesday’s meeting.
Southern Health Partners provides medical, dental and mental heath services to inmates in small and medium-sized jail facilities.
SHP provides on-site nurse staffing and a physician visits the facility on a regular basis. A nurse is on-call to the jail officers at all times for phone consultations, and a physician is on-call to the nurse. SHP orders all care, supplies, pharmaceuticals, and medical procedures.
Although there are limits on exposure to high costs, SHP manages all care throughout the process.
Major benefits of SHP include:
• Controls on supplies and medications
• 60-day no-fault termination provision
• Liability coverage extends to County and Sheriff or Jailer
• Turn-key ordering, billing, and payment of care
• On-site treatment – reduced transports
• Single point of accountability
• Proven success and clear history
• Officer training
SHP currently has inmate health care management contracts with several surrounding counties, including DeKalb, Wilson and Rutherford.
SHP is proposing a first-year contract of $66,900.
Over the last five years, the department has averaged spending slightly more than $163,000 per year on medical personnel and claims. SHP believes taking advantage of their services can trim that number to around $100,000 yearly.
“We bring to the table knowing how to do inmate health care and holding down costs,” Deweese said.
After hearing the presentation, Dr. Leon Reuhland, a member of the Law Enforcement Committee, said, “If we can cut costs as much as they claim I think we would be foolish not to go with it.”
During Tuesday’s meeting the committee also discussed ways to cut fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. Sheriff Young said rust in the tank at the fairgrounds from which the department is now getting its gas is causing increased maintenance costs. Switching to Woodbury Co-op to purchase fuel was recommended.
The committee also talked about ways to improve insurance coverage for sheriff’s department employees.
The sheriff is scheduled to present his budget proposal to the Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission when it meets Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse.