MIAMI COUNTY — When the county commissioners approved 2019 appropriations this month, the $34 million total included a $933,000 increase for the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Sheriff Dave Duchak, the “biggest chunk of the increase” will be put toward the opening of the fourth and last pod at the county’s Incarceration Facility.
With the budget increase, Duchak said the commissioners approved the hiring of eight new corrections officers to staff the fourth pod. It also accounts for increases in utility, food and medical costs. The estimated cost for opening the new pod is about $787,000 annually.
“We probably estimated over, but we’d rather be on the safe side,” Duchak added.
It’s a budget increase that “should bring in dividends,” he said.
The fourth pod will largely be rented out to other agencies. There are 60 beds in a pod and at about $59 a day per inmate, that comes to “just under $1.3 million,” Duchak said.
“The county would make, revenue-wise, after expenses, about $650,000, give or take,” he said. “It’s a financial gain for the county.”
Duchak said there is currently a demand for bed space. The facility currently averages about 30 rented beds, which has brought in an estimated $550,000 since late last year. The county rents to Darke, Gallia and Adams counties and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
At a meeting earlier this month, Commissioner Greg Simmons commended the sheriff for being “innovative” and bringing in revenue by renting out bed space in the county’s jail and incarceration facility.
He said there is currently no timeline for opening the pod, because the sheriff’s office will have to hire new personnel first.
“Hiring in this tight labor market is hard,” he said. “Corrections is a hard job, so it’s not going to be open overnight. It’s going to take a while til we can get people hired and trained.”
The opening of the pod will return the incarceration facility to pre-recession levels of operation, Duchak said. Prior to the facility’s closure in 2009, the county mainly rented the fourth pod to other agencies.
“Sheriff Charles Cox had averaged renting out two pods, one to the feds and one to counties. So Miami County typically needed two to two-and-a-half pods and the excess was always to help bring in revenue,” Duchak said. The facility reopened incrementally beginning in 2013.
The facility will still be operating with less staff than it did before it closed in 2009. Duchak said this is thanks to a switch to 12-hour shifts from 8.5-hour shifts and supervision restructuring that has saved the county an estimated $1 million a year in personnel costs.
Pre-recession, the county had 78 corrections officers at the incarceration facility and the downtown jail. There are currently 60 corrections officers, he said.
The rest of the budget increase accounts for negotiated union raises for personnel, as well as security upgrades planned for the courthouse and Safety Building.