Bailey seeks change in regional jail spending

FRONT ROYAL – An outgoing Shenandoah County supervisor took a last stab Thursday at trying to change the way the regional jail spends local money.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority Board of Directors held its final regular meeting this year. Shenandoah County Supervisor Cindy Bailey, a vocal critic of the jail who lost a re-election bid Nov. 7, questioned the authority’s spending of money left over from a previous fiscal year rather than returning the funds to the counties that pay into the facility’s operations.

The authority voted earlier this year to increase the amount it retains of the unspent, local contribution, Bailey noted.

“So if the counties are looking for money for their budgets, it’s there,” Bailey said. “It just needs to be utilized and then put back where it should be.”

Doug Stanley, county administrator for Warren County and chairman of the authority board, said members decided to hold back 20 percent of the unspent money as a “sinking capital fund” to cover equipment repairs or replacements in the future.

“What we don’t want to have to do is go back to our member jurisdictions and asked for more money later for capital items,” Stanley said.

The authority board voted at its Jan. 26 meeting to agree to hold back 20 percent of the funds available at the end of the last fiscal year — an amount of $177,296 — and to forward and redistribute to the member counties 80 percent of the funding, which came to $709,182. At the meeting, the board learned that the authority finished fiscal 2016 in the black by $886,478. The authority agreement states that it must keep 60 days of the operations budget as a reserve, less the amount paid on the debt, or $1.85 million at the time. The vote taken by the board called for the authority to distribute $709,182 to the localities they would use to reduce their fourth-quarter payments.

Bailey asked that in the future the authority allow each county board of supervisors to vote on what the RSW should do with unspent funds.

Also at the meeting, Stanley explained that members have not acted on any measure to expand the jail. Warren County Supervisor Daniel J. Murray Jr. asked Stanley to respond to claims made during the Shenandoah County supervisors’ race that the jail board plans to expand the facility.

“I figured I would have gotten at least a call if we were going to expand the RSW,” said Murray a member of the authority for six years. “I had to tell people I don’t know but when I get to the meeting I’ll ask: Did we vote to expand the RSW or was that just a misnomer somebody used during their campaign?”

The authority has had no discussion about expanding the jail, Stanley said. The authority had the jail designed to allow for an expansion if needed by removing a wall and building on to the core facility, Stanley said. However, Stanley said he doesn’t see the need to expand the jail for 10 to 15 years given the current population. The facility would not reach capacity even if they added inmates from Page County, Stanley said.

Bailey then commented that Stanley said at a recent board meeting that if population trends remained constant by this time next year, then the jail might need to expand. Stanley said “that would not be true.”