Rico Suffle

La Paz County Jail Commander Rico Suffle explains the budget needs of the Jail District to the County Board of Supervisors at a work session June 10.

The La Paz County Sheriff’s Office and the County Jail District are among the largest expenses in the county’s budget. Budget numbers for the 2020-21 fiscal year were presented at a County Board of Supervisors’ work session June 10.

The figures presented by County Finance Director Terry Krukemyer were raw numbers with few details or line items.

The Sheriff’s Office had a budget of $4.453 million in FY 2019-20. Their total expenditures were $4.456 million. Their proposed budget for FY 2020-21 is $4.55 million, an increase of $97,000. The office is budgeted for $11,000 less for personnel and $108,000 more for operations.

The sheriff’s dispatch office, which is commonly known as Central Dispatch, is budgeted at $988,000 for FY 2020-21. That’s an increase of $147,000 from the current fiscal year’s budget of $841,000. The proposed budget includes $114,000 more for personnel and $33,000 more for operations.

The office is currently budgeted for 11 dispatchers, and they have three openings.

The Jail District had a budget of $3.678 million for FY 2019-20, and they spent $3.626 million. Their budget for 2020-21 will see a $1.084 million increase to $4.762 million. The increase will provide $954,000 for personnel and $129,000 for operations.

Jail Commander Rico Suffle said he has 11 openings at the jail. These include openings for seven detention officers and a Lieutenant. He said they also need case managers and maintenance personnel.

District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin said it looked like the personnel requests would enhance jail operations.

As for jail revenue, Krukemyer estimated it would be $7 million in FY 2020-21 if all the actual revenues stay at the same levels as FY 2019-20.

A question was asked about revenue from housing federal inmates. Krukemyer said the jail district budgeted $2.1 million for FY 2019-20, but they received $1.2 million. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, they have budgeted a low amount of $50,000.

When it was built in the 1990s, one of the points used to sell the jail to county residents was it would be able to house state and federal inmates and become a revenue source for the county. The jail housed federal inmates for a number of years, but that ended some years ago due to the controversy over SB 1070, the state’s tough anti-illegal immigration law. As a result, the jail became a major drain on county finances and was a contributor to the county’s financial crisis in 2017.

Since then, with a new Administration in Washington, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has been sending low-level federal inmates to the La Paz County Jail.

Sheriff Bill Risen said the Feds are paying for 200 beds in the jail, which may or may not reflect how many federal prisoners they have.

“We will always have beds available for them,” he said.

The new fiscal year starts July 1.

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