July’s regular meeting of the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center board saw two major shakeups that will affect the jail’s finances: The hiring of additional staff and a cut to per diem costs for housing county inmates.

During Administrator F. D. “Pete” Fitzpatrick’s report on the prior few months’ population, bills and employee overtime costs, multiple board members expressed the need to fix an excess of overtime. 

“I just want to make sure I’ve got this right,” board member Zachary Branham said. “From (May) 7 to July 1, we had 1,830 hours of overtime.”

Less than a minute later, board member Mike Crum motioned to give all hourly employees a three percent raise, and hire one additional employee per county. Sue Maynard seconded the motion, which was approved.

The administrator’s report also included profit and loss for the end of the fiscal year. Fitzpatrick said last year’s ending profits of more than $182,000 were exceeded by this year’s more than $570,000, and if currently uncollected revenue from the contracted counties in the area were to be included, the jail would turn more than $806,000 in profit.

“I make a motion that we need to lower the daily per diem for the counties,” Branham said immediately after hearing the $806,000 figure. “We’re not here to make money.”

“I second that motion,” Crum said quickly, laughing. Crum also serves on the Martin County Fiscal Court.

“This is not put here to be a profit center. We’re here out of necessity,” Branham said. “We don’t need $800,000 surplus every year.”

Cautioned about the new detention center opening in Rowan County, Branham was undeterred, saying that counties cannot pay the current fees with so much lost revenue. 

“The closer to zero we are every year, the better,” Branham said.

The board voted to amend the current $25 per diem to the $22 it was before the most recent raise. 

The board also:

•Voted to reinstate work release for low-risk inmates, which had been suspended pending an investigation after the escape of two inmates from the Johnson County jailer 

•Seek additional quotes for the removal of black mold from the kitchen

• Pay the Kentucky Association of Counties for insurance premiums before August 1, to qualify for a discount

Voted to pay a former employee more than 97 hours of accrued unpaid sick time

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