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Jail Program Getting Good Results

Karen Shade - April 11, 2017 4:15 pm

Saline County Jail

Central Kansas Mental Health Executive Director Kathy Mosher told Saline County Commissioners that a pilot program to reduce recidivism at the jail produced an estimated savings of $140,247 last year.  Mosher said that after receiving services from CKMHC, 15 soon-to-be-released inmates did not return to jail within 90 days or longer.  This amounted to a 57% success rate as a result of the pilot program in 2016.  This compares to a 20% success rate in 2015.

A second goal of stabilizing inmates placed on an “intensive suicide watch” and returning them to the general population impacted 17 inmates.  The new process helped the inmates return to general population an average of 2 days earlier per inmate, for an estimated savings of $4,368.

Mosher asked County Commissioners to increase their financial support of CKMHC by $21,619 in the 2018 budget.  Across the state, the average county funding for a mandated safety net is $7.31 per person.  For the past two years, the County has increasingly stepped up its support for CKMHC, but its 2017 funding of $256,836 translates into $4.61 per person funding.  An additional $21,619 in funding would bring Saline County’s contribution to $5.00 per person.

Mosher said that every dollar invested in mental health funding prevents costs in other county budget areas such as:

  • Decreased law enforcement contacts / lowered crime rates
  • Fewer mentally ill adults in jail
  • Decreased juvenile intake and detention admissions
  • Decreased school dropout rates
  • Fewer emergency room visits / lower suicide rate
  • Decreased homelessness

Multiple commissioners voiced appreciation for CKMHC’s efforts, especially at the jail.  Commissioner Mike White, who also serves on the CKMHC Board, said that the State imposed “tax lid” may create difficulties for the County to increase its funding level.

Corrections to Increase Hiring

Commissioners voiced support of a plan by Sheriff Roger Soldan to hire two Corrections positions over its current staffing level.

Soldan cited several factors that drive turnover in corrections.  He wrote:

  • The work is difficult and the salary is set at a level that makes it a challenge to retain employees.
  • Often a position in Corrections is the pathway to another job within the county or to gain experience and build a resume to pursue a job in another law enforcement agency.
  • Some individuals simply are not a good fit in a correctional setting and move on to other employment.

Soldan presented three years of statistics:

  • In 2014, Corrections averaged 2.5 open positions throughout the year. In 2015, they averaged 4.0 open positions.  In 2016, they averaged 2.75 open positions.
  • In 2014, the Jail’s budget line for corrections salaries was underspent by $86,703. In 2015, it was underspent by $265,575.  In 2016, it was underspent by $44,724.
  • In a separate budget line, in 2014, Corrections required an additional $83,379 in overtime, in addition to what had been budgeted. In 2015, this was $82,302.  In 2016, this was $61,768.
  • The number of overtime hours needed to cover because of staffing shortages was 2,490 in 2014; 3,625 in 2015; and 3,603 in 2016.

Soldan said it may take two months for Human Resources to fill a corrections vacancy, because of extensive background checks, testing and evaluations.  Soldan then said the on-the-job training process takes another three months.

The Commission wishes to review this change in staffing in six months.

Planning and Zoning Term Limits Repealed

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that rolls back term limits for those who serve on the County’s Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.  The 2015-2016 Commission implemented term limits.

Planning and Zoning Director David Neal said that term limits bring “new blood” to the commissions but noted there is a downside if there is a limited pool of applicants.  Neal said he personally was not in favor of having term limits.

Commissioners reaffirmed that they can remove any Planning or Zoning Commissioner at any time.  The County Commission will also continue the practice of re-appointing Planning and Zoning Commissioners every three years.

In other matters

Commissioners also:

  • Awarded a mower deck bid to Kan Equip in Wamego, in the amount of $18,450.
  • Awarded a copy machine bid for 2 copiers for Road and Bridge to Ricoh USA, in the amount of $7,287. The maintenance costs will be 6/10th of a cent for black and white copies and 4.5 cents for color copies.
  • Finalized the Right of Way Vacation for Mahan Road.
  • Heard an Emergency Management Update from Hannah Stambaugh, Emergency Management Director.
  • Accepted $2,250 in additional Maternal Child Health funding from KDHE.
  • Learned of the Health Department’s efforts to apply to be a lead agency for a Healthy Community Grant Initiative in 2018.
  • Discussed a letter of support for the Smoky Hill Weapons Range.

Commissioners planned to meet in three executive sessions.  One was to deal with employee/employer negotiations.