Jail sees savings from vacant positions

FRONT ROYAL – The regional jail’s struggle to fill vacant positions also saves the facility money.

The Finance and Personnel Committee of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority Board met Thursday to discuss the fiscal 2018 budget. Superintendent William Wilson also gave his monthly report to the committee.

The jail has 23 officer vacancies and two nurse positions open, Wilson said. The jail hasn’t received any inquiries for either nurse position in the past few weeks, Wilson added. The information technology manager resigned but the jail filled the position shortly thereafter, Wilson said.

Finance Director Lori Clinedinst gave a report about the fiscal 2018 budget. Health insurance for employees increased by 9 percent, the committee learned. The jail can expect contractual services such as medical and dental care to increase by $239,234. The cost for utilities, training, supplies and other needs also are expected to increase.

The authority board could consider three budget options. The first option that would reduce the budget by $401,290 includes a 1.5-percent bonus for employees. The second option calls for a 3-percent, across-the-board pay increase and 2.5-percent merit increase for employees with three years of service that would reduce the budget by $222,329. The third option shifts the salary scale and makes starting pay for corrections officers more competitive with other agencies.

The jail anticipates that 10 positions funded through the state Compensation Board will remain vacant all year. Keeping the positions open will save the jail $310,100, which will offset the cost of the facility’s offsite medical services and prescription drugs for inmates, Clinedinst reported.

Wilson said during his report that he learned earlier this month that the federal government reimburses jails that hold immigrants who entered the country illegally charged with crimes and stay in the facilities for more than four days. RSW doesn’t have many of these prisoners, Wilson said, compared to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester, which made about $19,000. Participating localities would need to sign on with the reimbursement agreement because the federal government doesn’t recognize the jail authority, Wilson explained. The jail had 200, foreign-born inmates but not all would meet the criteria for reimbursement, Deputy Superintendent Russell Gilkison said.

The superintendent said he’s also in contact with the U.S. Marshal’s office to see if the jail could hold that agency’s prisoners. Wilson reiterated that the jail doesn’t house many immigrants who are here illegally.

“But, with the change in administration and the way things are gonna hit in the press … that may change at any day,” Wilson said.

The superintendent reported that he recently started talks with another local jail dealing with inmate overcrowding and the possibility of RSW holding the extra prisoners. Wilson would disclose the name of the facility though he said it wasn’t in Page County. RSW lacks the staff to take on an extra 80-90 prisoners, Wilson said. However, the other jail’s contract with the outside facility expires soon and Wilson commented that by that time RSW might have enough staff to take on the extra prisoners and sell beds for more revenue.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com