Due to an increase in the population of inmates and higher meal prices, Houston County Jail officials requested a budget amendment for the inmate meals.
Right now, it’s projected that the Houston County Jail will need an extra $120,972.93 this fiscal year for feeding costs.
When this year’s budget for Houston County was put together, the jail was under a different contractor that furnished the meals for the inmates.
When the budget was approved, the cost was $76.04 a meal.
“After the budget was approved, it was time to rebid the meals,” Houston County Sheriff Major Bill Rafferty said. “We sent the bid out and our lowest bid came in at $89.09 a meal. That was accepted because it was the lowest, and everything was done appropriately.”
Meal costs now increase from a little over $2 a day to around $2.70 a day, the state will only reimburse $1.75 a day.
Inmate population numbers last year were in the 250-300. Now the jail has experienced an increase in population, averaging 350-400 inmates.
“It appears that $120,000 was what it was going to take to finish out the year at our higher numbers,” Rafferty said. “Our inmate budget as it is, I believe it was like $259,000 for the year, and it’s going to run us well over $300,000 to feed our inmates.”
The state does try to move the inmates as quickly as possible. However, there’s still a correction facility that’s full.
“They have changed the laws,” Rafferty said. “A Class D felon stays in the county now and do(es) not go to the state prison system, which increases the inmate population. As well as community corrections, they take as many as they can for the community corrections program that qualifies.”
The jail is on a three-year contract agreement, which has an index that allows them to raise the cost so much every year.
Because commissioners approved the budget amendment, undesignated funds will now cover the extra cost.