Press-Republican

August 19, 2013

Franklin County officials: Jail space needed in 3 to 5 years

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Franklin County may need new jail space to handle the increase in female inmates and to reduce costly maintenance as the 20-year-old existing building ages.

Darrin Rubadeau, County Buildings and Grounds superintendent, also told legislators he needs another person to help catch up on the repairs and preventive maintenance needed at the Bare Hill Road facility.

His department lost a position in 2011 when the county laid off 11 staff, and the loss is being felt as repairs pile up at the jail, he said.

Rubadeau said his staff also takes care of the Public Safety Building next door and that he doesn’t have enough staff to easily perform routine tasks at each site, such as mowing and trash collection, or to do the inspections and equipment repairs that often crop up.

“In 1993, when it was built, there were 40 inmates, and it was a new building, so there wasn’t a lot of maintenance needed,” he said. 

“Now, it’s 20 years old, and there are about 120 inmates, so the work’s tripled. Things are going down. Preventive maintenance needs to be done.”

NURSING-HOME MERGER

Rubadeau said he could find enough money in his existing budget to pay for an extra person until the end of the year, but he urged legislators to restore the position he lost.

County Manager Thomas Leitz said it makes sense to put the job back because savings will be realized next year when fewer maintenance workers will be needed at the County Nursing Home — a planned merger of that facility with Alice Hyde Medical Center’s nursing home is set for 2014.

Rubadeau there are three full-time maintenance people at the Nursing Home and 14 cleaners, but post-merger, he may only need one maintenance person and one or two cleaners.

The cost for a maintenance worker assigned to tasks at the jail is reimbursed at 80 percent from the Sheriff’s Department budget, he said.

FEMALE CRIME UP

And in a related matter, Leitz told legislators more space is needed at the jail.

“I can see us, as soon as three years from now and in less than five, expanding the jail because we’re housing out females,” he said. 

“I see us expanding (the female) unit.”

Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said he has room for 14 women and was housing out four others to neighboring counties (last) week.

“Females, traditionally, did not get involved in a lot of crime,” he said, but more women are being arrested and sentenced for cases involving drugs, Family Court issues and “a mix of things.”

STATUS QUO FOR NOW

That means he has to board some of them out at a cost of $80 to $85 a day in boarding fees plus the additional cost of manpower and transportation of taking them back and forth between their place of custody and the court where their case is being handled.

Still, the roughly $100 daily total cost per female inmate might still be cheaper than funding a multi-million dollar building project for a new jail, Mulverhill said.

“The cost of bonding could be as much as the boarding,” he said. “The county manager and I have had discussions, and I think, in three to five years, we’ll take a look at it.

“We’ll just keep working with what we have,” the sheriff said.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com