Multi-Million Dollar Annual Subsidy for Federal Government’s Housing of Illegal Aliens & Others at the McHenry County Jail – Part 1

The day room of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement floor.

The day room in the McHenry County Jail floor finished with Federal funds.

One of the signature accomplishments claimed by outgoing McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren is the build-out of the unfinished top floor of the jail with the help of $6.5 million in Federal funds.

Now, figures from the Sheriff’s Department show taxpayers losing $5-6 million a year on operating costs (from FY 2008-2012) to house illegal aliens and prisoners at the behest of ICE and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, respectively.

On the floor built on the premise that it might be needed someday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Marshal folks pay $85 a day to house those in the country illegally, plus prisoners.

Joseph Summerill's estimate of the costs and benefits of housing Federal prisoners in the McHenry County Jail.

Joseph Summerill’s estimate of the costs and benefits of housing Federal prisoners in the McHenry County Jail.

The deal was sold as a money maker for the County, but it has not turned out that way.

While being paid $85 a day, the cost averaged $131.38 per day over the five years ending in 2012 for which figures were released last April by consultant Joseph Summerill.  He used information supplied by the Sheriff’s Department.

Summeriil shows total revenues of $48,257,530 over the five year period.  (See page 5 of his presentation below.)

The jail’s operating budget for the same period (see page 7), however, was $78,705,417.

Daily census figures the McHenry County Jail put together by Joseph Summerill.

Annual revenue from the Feds is outlined on this page 5 of  this April, 2013, report from Joseph Summeriil.  USMS are the initials for the United States Marshals Service.  ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The operating cost is obviously substantially more that the revenue.

Summerill was hired for $60,000 last spring by the County Board to negotiate a new deal with the Feds by the end of last July. (See p. 15.)

Do the math using the figures above supplied by the Sheriff’s Office to Joseph Summeriil and one sees $131.38 would have to be the per diem charge to break even.

McH Co Jail Rev v Operating Budget 2008-12 p 7 Summeriil

The arrangement with the Feds brought in about $48 million over the five years in this study. While there is no column showing how much was spent, $78.7 million was budgeted for the period.

That’s an average of $15.74 million a year in budgeted expenses versus $9.65 million a year in revenue.

By multiplying the average cost per day over the five years studied–$131.38–by the number of Federal days cells were occupied–567,736–one may estimate that the total cost for housing them was $74,589,156.

The difference between the revenue from the Federal government and

  1. the budgeted figure of $78.7 million above and
  2. the estimated actual cost of $74.6 million

divided by five makes it appear that McHenry County taxpayers were subsidizing the Federal government an average of $5 to $6 million per year during the five years from 2008 to 2012

So why hasn’t the County Board noticed the $26 million to $30 million five-year deficit and done something to stem the hemorrhaging of tax dollars?

Zinke, Andy lookiing right hands clapsed sittingLast spring, when Hammerand was blowing his whistle on this red ink, Undersheriff and candidate Andy Zinke was quoted in the May 16th NW Herald as saying,

“It’s a terrific program that creates jobs and builds a working relationship with the federal government.”

Meanwhile McHenry County has one of the highest property tax burdens in the whole United States.

With the March 18th election less than a month away, no written report has been submitted by Summeriil.

Suspicious observers think the reason for the delay is much like the delay in releasing the investigatory report exonerating Andy Zinke of any wrongdoing in the RITA incident.

The Northwest Herald did report that Nygren recently met with Federal officials in Washington over the reimbursement issue.

However competing facilities charge less than the $85 now paid McHenry County:

  • $70 – Kenosha County, Wisconsin
  • $65 – Dodge County, Wisconsin (northwest of Milwaukee)

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


Multi-Million Dollar Annual Subsidy for Federal Government’s Housing of Illegal Aliens & Others at the McHenry County Jail – Part 1 — 23 Comments

  1. Can Zinke defemd amd explain his May 16th canned response, in the Northwest Herald, “creates jobs… building a working relationship…blah, blah”

    What a B.S. non statement that is!

    But, that’s typical Zinke verbage when questioned about a deparment he should know backwards and forward, that is, if he and his boss were on the job and paying attention.

    Bye Andy; we can’t afford you and your bad decisions any longer.

  2. Cal, do you seriously believe thy Andy Zinke is involved in drug smuggling in McHenry county? Yes or No?

  3. The Sheriff’s office is full of red ink just like County Board members and Bill Prim said.

    In comes Fair Play from out of left field to completely change the discussion.

    Fair Play – is housing illegal aliens a money maker like Andy Zinke said it was?

    Some of you just need to be taken to the woodshed… 21 days.

  4. Fair Play. I can’t speak for Cal, and I’m no Andy fan but I don’t think anyone would suggest Andy is in anyway involved in drug smuggling and I’m not sure anyone ever said that.

    The question revolves around Zinkes ethical lapse and letting the owner of a company know there were a substantial amount of drugs destined for his building.

    The fact that this is his campaign headquarters and the fact the owner is a significant campaign contributor, should have been left for the investigating agency to determine if and when the owner should have been informed of the investigation, not Zinke.

    I would be willing to bet that if it was any other factory or corporation in Mchenry County, Zinke would have let the investigation runs it’s course and would not have contacted the owner to provide them with any details as he did in this case.

    He probably did nothing illegal, but this was not his case and professionally made the wrong call.

    His lack of ethics and judgment is what should be weighed by the voter

  5. Public Safety has the fiasco with the illegal alien space rental and MCDOT has the CFI intersection fiasco now taking off.

    Make sure you ask the County Board candidates where they stand on both issues!!

  6. Wait… Did the DEA charge Zinke with a crime?

    Obstruction of Justice?



    But it gives the tin hat crowd something to obsess about.

  7. If McHenry County didn’t house the federal inmates, what would be the jail’s annual operating cost? The Kane County Jail’s annual budget is nearly $14 million without substantial federal or out-of-county inmate per diem revenue. So, what is the cost of housing McHenry County’s nearly 200 inmates daily without federal contribution?

    What is the McHenry County jail inmate per diem less the federal costs and revenue? More, less, or the same $131.38? My guess, the per diem increases dramatically without federal revenue because there are fixed operations costs regardless of the number of housed inmates.

    You suggest that the Feds should have paid $74.6 million of the $78.7 million TOTAL operating budget to house 311 average daily inmates from 2008-12. By this argument, McHenry County should only have paid $4.1 million to house 190 average daily inmates from 2008-12. By your math, McHenry County should only have paid $820,00 annually to operate the jail. While not an expert, I seriously doubt that McHenry County should only have paid $820,00 annually to run the jail. Especially considering that Kane County spends $14 million annually to run their jail.

    So, Cal, following your argument, you believe that the Feds should have paid 94.7% ($74.6m/$78.7)of the jail’s operating cost to house 62% (311/500) of the inmates from 2008-12. While certainly appealing to county taxpayers, I doubt the Feds would go along with this.

    But, thanks for the lesson in Voodoo Economics. Seems like you are just cherry picking facts from the cited 15 page report to support your agenda against Andy Zinke. And, I doubt such an inaccurate, misleading & simple-minded analysis will hold much weight with anyone. Of course, you seem to follow the old politician’s axiom….say it enough times and it will stick, facts be damned.

  8. Maybe this will be answered the 2nd or 3rd part of your publishing of the report, but I would like to see it spelled out what the figure shown as “Jail Operating Budget” ($78.705,714)includes.

    Is that the total cost of the jail operation or is that broken down and cover just the federal prisoners?

    I hear the editorializing but I don’t see it in black & white in the report or the tables.

    I’m not saying that it is or isn’t but I’d like to know as it will make a big difference in the bottom line when you take into consideration all the local prisoners and a set off for the $6.5M or whatever construction grant from the feds.

  9. Its not difficult to see the taxpayers are subsidizing the jail fiasco.

    65 extra jailers were hired.

    A very conservative figure of $120,000 for pay and benefits is not covered by the average 240 or so contract inmates.

    This is pay and benefits for the extra offices only.

    Now add in all the extra supervisors, meals, paperwork, training, accredidatons, lawsuits. etc etc…

    Of course nobody is telling the taxpayers they are paying for all this.

    Actually, it is boerderline criminal.

  10. I am suggesting that if the cost is $131.38 on the average for the five-year period ending in 2012 that the County Board should have gotten that much.

    Happy to have you put a different interpretation on the figures, but unhappy that I haven’t seen any County Board discussion outside of John Hammerand’s on the subject.

  11. That all the figures shown are from the consultant’s report is not the question. The question, I think, is are ALL the figures from the consultant’s report being published.

    What you posted above is unclear and if all the figures from the consultant ARE being presented here, then once again the county has gotten screwed – not that there is necessarily anyone on the board who would catch it.

    I’m not ready to accept the above as fact nor am I ready to deny that we’ve been screwed.

    Not enough information.

    Unlike some others, I will make my own decision based upon all available information not what you may choose to leave on the editing room floor.

  12. Sorry, but my scanner is on the fritz.

    Had we a more transparent County Board the report would be posted on the County web site.

    I would suggest you contract your four County Board members and request that the Summerill report be posted.

  13. I suppose we will have to wait for further parts of this story to see if the weird math is naive or is it misleading?

    However, So what you are saying is our Jails net cost is significantly lower than the closest comparable Jail (Kane County) that doesn’t hold federal prisoners while using empty space to create local jobs.

    Had to sort through the nonsensical “prim-spin” but I had no idea the Jail program had been so successful.

    Oh this is going to be interesting…

  14. I guess the question is do you know if you are comparing the revenue against all jail costs or just the incremental costs to drive that revenue?

    I am pretty sure I know the answer but honestly curious if you know what you are specifically representing?

    Or are you just implying it means what you would wish it does?

  15. ButSeriously, I have the same question as you.

    Cal seems to be comparing Federal Revenue against Total Budget (federal costs + in-county costs).

    An appropriate cost-benefit analysis would compare Federal Revenue against the additional Federal Costs, not the Total Budget (which includes county inmate costs).

    Otherwise, in claiming a $26 million shortfall, Cal is suggesting that the Feds should be paying to house McHenry County jail inmates as well as federal detainees.

    And, if this is Summerill’s analysis and conclusion, then he should be fired with $60,000 fee recouped.

    My guess is that the federal program is a break even program with the Feds gaining valuable post 9/11 jail space for illegal aliens & undesirables while the county gains substantial jobs and federal $$$ into our local economy.

    Big revenue, but little or no profit, A Win-Win for the Feds and county.

  16. As I read the report, the budget (not the cost) for housing the Federal prisoners is compared to the revenue from the Federal government.

    As I have suggested, ask your four County Board members to post the report so you can see all of it yourself.

  17. Like i stated earlier, the extra 65 jail officers were hired so the third floor could be opened. in the beginning when the contract detainee numbers where much higher and the County made money.
    However the last four years or so the numbers dropped 30 – 40% but the jail insisted on keeping the same number of officers, kept replacing officers who left, promoting and creating special teams, training in Vegas etc etc.
    The revenue coming in doesnt cover pay and benefits for the extra 65 officers never mind all the extra cash it taked to house and feed the app. 240 contract detainees.
    The Sheriff and the County knows all this.
    It doesnt take a 60k audit to see the obvious.

  18. Great reporting, and exposing the facts Cal.

    This is just another example of very very poor judgement by Stinky Zinke and that Walrus.

    This County needs to be restored, and this will begin with Bill Prim for Sheriff !

  19. Oh by the way nice job quoting a salesman trying to sell a consulting services numbers.

    Just a bit naive.

  20. But the report had significant enough information for the County Board to agree to pay $60,000 to Joseph Summerill.

    And, County Administrator Peter Austin is in Washington today trying to convince the Feds to raise the rate.

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