After cutting jail expenses since he took office in December, McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim asked County Board approval to continue housing ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and U.S. Marshal detainees and prisoners for another six months.
Wonder Lake’s John Hammerand, who blew the whistle on the much-less-than-break-even operation of former Sheriff Keith Nygren, asked the question he has been asking from the beginning:
What will be our cost per day?
He said he asked the question because he did not have the opportunity to pose it during the Finance Committee off of which he has been kicked by newly-sworn in Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller.
The answer is still in process.
However, Crystal Lake’s Donna Kurtz, one of the critics of Nygren’s administration of the program, said she had spent an hour with Prim on the subject and become convinced that there has been “a substantial drop in the variable cost.”
She pointed out that at the $95 per day reimbursement rate, it took 25 inmates a day to break even.
138 Correctional Officers are needed to run the jail without Federal participation, she continued.
Seven more are needed to continue the program.
At a cost of approximately $700,000 per year, Kurtz thought that was a good deal to obtain an additional $5 million in revenue.
“If we kill the jail program tonight, Nunda Township’s Nick Provenzano pointed out, “it’ll be a $5 million hit…to the General Fund.
“We balanced the budget on the $5 million jail [revenue].
“We’d have a $5 million hole.
“We have a $5 million revenue source that is tenuous.”
Andrew Gasser of Fox River Grove explained that when he was running for office last year, “the ICE contract was front and center.
“Sheriff Prim has cleaned it up.
“He is asking for six more months for seven jailers.
“I cannot see why we cannot support Sheriff Prim.”
The second time around, Hammerand expressed his hope that in those six months, “we’d have a number” that would include food, housing, guards, etc.
Prim responded to questions by revealing that it takes 28.83 in custody to break even with the seven additional Correctional Officers.
“We’ve driven our costs way down, about $19 a day above and beyond the cost of the Correctional Officers.”
When the roll was called, the vote was 23-0.
Member Don Kopsell was absent.