Sheriff looks for cheaper ways to run the jail - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff looks for cheaper ways to run the jail

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The jail and Dougherty County Sheriff's office make up more than a third of the county's total budget.   That means Sheriff Kevin Sproul oversees the largest single chunk of the budget.

With tax revenues coming in about 10% lower than expected, will he be able to cut expenses?  

It takes a lot of money to operate an entire County. Last year alone total expenses for the general budget were almost $46 Million for Dougherty County. Of that, the jail and Sheriff's Office made up more than a third of that budget at nearly $16.4 Million.

"We have to have it. It's a public safety issue," said Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

There's a saying that crime doesn't pay, but it sure does cost a lot. There are 780 inmates booked here and it will cost $36,660 to house them for just one day.

"When you look at our medical costs and food costs alone, they go up about 4.5% a year," said Sproul.

The county has asked all department heads, including Sheriff Sproul to cut their proposed budgets by 10% of their allotted amounts, but is that possible?

"We've already started that. I've parked 60% of my take home fleet without being asked to do so, I did it on my own. I changed the shifts downtown, working various hours now, trying to get rid of overtime we had in place, as well as at the jail."

1,000,000 meals are prepared in this kitchen every year. Many of them are made with a fryer which has been used since 1994. It was scheduled to be replaced this year, but at $22,000, the sheriff has decided to use it until it will fry no more.

"Wherever we can cut, we're cutting, cause we understand the big picture and we want to try to help out with the big picture and not just our share of the pie, but the whole pie."

He's also put off on purchasing a truck, has cut back on the amount of overtime hours and isn't filling three of four vacancies he currently has available.

Sheriff Sproul says he will be able to cut 10% from his day to day operations, but says he can't cut 10% from personnel, and that's the most costly part of his budget.

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