The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority Board will discuss its proposed fiscal year 2022 budget later this month. 

On Friday, the Finance and Personnel Committee unanimously approved the roughly $6.9 million budget to be discussed at the Jail Authority Board's meeting at 1:30 p.m. March 25.

The budget includes a contribution of about $3.5 million from Warren County, or 50.95%, $3 million from Shenandoah County, or 43.78%, and $362,827 from Rappahannock County, or 5.27%. The three counties allocate a portion of their county budgets to the operating costs of the jail.

Compared to this year’s budget, the proposal represents a decrease in contributions of about $480,333 from Warren County, $241,365 from Shenandoah County and $49,668 from Rappahannock County, or about 10% for all three jurisdictions combined.

According to Jail Superintendent Russell Gilkison’s report at the meeting, the jail’s average daily population includes 160 people (50.6%) from Warren County, 119 (44.3%) from Shenandoah County, and 18 (5.1%) from Rappahannock County.

The proposal includes a 5% cost-of-living adjustment salary increase for employees across the board, after the state’s compensation board decided to include that in its allocations instead of bonuses.

Committee Chairman and Shenandoah County Administrator Evan Vass had entertained the idea of not including the salary adjustment in the proposal as a way to achieve savings, but the committee decided to include it.

The proposal also includes keeping 15 positions vacant to achieve savings. The jail has 40 officer vacancies, including 12 that have been unfilled to achieve savings.

The decrease in staff hasn’t impacted services, Gilkison said in response to questions from committee members and Warren County Board of Supervisor Delores Oates, but noted that it does limit potential revenue for the jail. About 130 to 140 beds are not being used, Gilkison said, because the jail doesn’t have the staff for them.

Edwin Daley, the interim Warren County administrator, suggested an analysis be done to see what revenue could be brought in if the jail was fully staffed and occupied.

The jail is actively searching for applications, Gilkison said.

The committee also agreed to contribute about $200,000 from each county’s credit from the 2019-2020 fund to the jail’s capital reserve fund. The credits are given, in part, after more revenue from inmate bed usage from Page and Culpepper counties was generated than budgeted.

The jail rents bed space to Page and Culpepper counties, which in turn pay $33 and $36, respectively, for each bed. In January, 31 inmates were from Page County and 75 inmates were from Culpeper, with a billing amount of $40,1540 to Page County and $82,549 to Culpeper County, Gilkison and Finance Manager Stephanie Smith told the committee.

The bed usage rate will be going up in the future to $48 dollars per bed for Culpepper County and $50 per bed for Page County, Gilkison said.

With the contribution, a remaining portion of the credit will be given in the amount of $812,954 to Warren County, $174,183 to Shenandoah County and $53,897 to Rappahannock County.

Oates initially proposed a $300,000 contribution to offset impending capital improvement plan costs, but Vass said he was more comfortable with the $200,000 amount. The greater the contribution to the capital reserve fund, the less of a credit each county will receive.

Garrey Curry, who is a committee member, chairman of the Jail Authority Board and the Rappahannock County administrator, said a plan needs to be made to borrow money, contribute operating costs, or set aside funds for future capital costs. In 2024, those costs are expected to be $11.8 million, and in 2029, $5.8 million, the committee discussed.

Daley proposed setting a portion of the revenue from the bed usage given to Page and Culpeper counties for those costs. Curry said portions of that expected revenue can be set aside at the start of the budget year and remaining amounts of those funds can be set aside at the end of the year, or both.

The committee decided to devise such a plan at a future meeting after this year's budget is completed.

The committee also discussed looking at the water and sewer bills the jail pays to the Town of Front Royal, which are double the in-town rate because it consumes water or discharges sewage in excess of 540,000 gallons. The jail has taken efforts to monitor water and sewer usage, Gilkison said.

The jail also was the second-lowest of 16 jails in the Northern Region in operating costs per inmate day, according to a state report that will be discussed more at the end of the month, Gilkison said.

Contact Charles Paullin at cpaullin@nvdaily.com