My master’s degree from the University of Michigan is in Public Administration.
I was thinking of what my professors would have said if I had presented what the County Board is being given to justify an increase of $10 a day for housing Federal prisoners.
The best I could have hoped for would have been an “incomplete.”
Maybe I would be given another chance to meet minimum expectations.
Before voting on the resolution the County Board will not even know the unit cost for housing a prisoner for a day.
Pretty basic information, but the Sheriff’s Office won’t offer it up.
Even after repeated Freedom of Information requests. (And not just from me.)
The best we have is a figure of $131.38 from Joseph Summerill in what several prominent County Board members have called “a sales pitch.” (See details in this article where another estimate of $110 per day is also referenced.)
At any rate, even with the hike in price, McHenry County taxpayers will still be subsidizing the Federal government.
The County Board won’t even know if the $95 a day is covering variable costs, however.
In short, County Board members will be as ignorant of the amount of the subsidy tomorrow as they have been all along.
Today at the Law & Justice Committee, where the resolution was voted onto the County Board floor on a 4-2 vote (Sue Draffkorn, Joe Gottemoller and John Jung voting in favor with Yvonne Barnes and Jim Heisler opposed) occupancy figures were presented that ended in January.
Some may not that it is now May.
Look at the chart below, created from today’s handout, and you will see a downward Federal census trend.
One County Board member revealed that the number housed “just dropped down dramatically” after January and that was why those figures were not reported.
Prisoners referred by the U.S. Marshals was down “almost to zero.”
Justification for approving the resolution is not based on projected additional revenue.
It is based on looking backward:
“While the number of Federal detainees fluctuates, had this rate structure been in place in 2012, McHenry County would have realized an additional $1,064,960.70 in revenue. Had this rate structure been in place in 2013, McHenry County would have realized an additional $892,360.00 in revenue.”
Proposals like this should look forward.
Questions such as the ones I have raised might have been brought up in a Finance & Audit Committee meeting.
But this proposal made no appearance before the fiscal experts on the Finance Committee.
This reminds me most of Jimmy Carter’s campaign for President.
He famously asked the American people: “Trust me.”
We know how that worked out.