Yesterday, based on McHenry County Sheriff’s Department figures organized by $60,000 consultant Joseph Summerill, McHenry County Blog pointed out that over a five-year period, Sheriff Keith Nygren’s program to house illegal aliens and prisoners in the McHenry County Jail cost taxpayers about $5 million to 6 million annually (from 2008 through 2012).
This data was not made public in a format that could be understood by most people until last spring, however.
Using the data that the Sheriff’s Department made no effort to provide previously to the County Board, which approves his budget, one can perform cost-benefit analysis.
It shows that the program has been a money loser for a long time.
When comparing Federal payments to budgeted appropriations, the figures show a thirty million dollar deficit from 2208 through 2012.
By multiplying the number of cell days by the average cost per day of $131.38, the deficit is about $26 million.
At the same time, McHenry County’s jail occupancy is about half of its 650 inmate capacity.
As revenues declined, the Sheriff’s Office did not cut expenditures.
Federal bed days went from 126,517 in 2011 to 106,298 in 2012, but the operating budget increased $600,000 from $16.6 to 17.2 million. (See April, 2013, Summerill presentation, page 7.)
Consultant Summerill said last April that a new contract would be awarded to McHenry County “no later than July 31, 2013.” (See Summerill page 15 slide.)
That has not occurred.
One potential reason is that McHenry County already charges more than competitors.
Talk has been that the Sheriff and Summerill think that the per diem payment could be increased from $85 to $100 per day.
With an average cost per day of $131.38 from 2008-2012, however, the extra $15 a day would not bring the operation to a break-even level.
Since the middle of the five-year (2008-2012) for the $131 daily cost figure is 2010 and this is 2014, the loss per day could conceivably be higher than the $46.38 estimate derived from Summerill’s figures.
In any event, assuming the rate increases from $85 to $100 per day, McHenry County taxpayers would still be picking up a big chunk of the cost of housing illegal aliens and Federal prisoners at the County Jail.
While the jail operating costs are declining, because the number of illegal aliens housed in Woodstock is declining, tax dollars requested by the Sheriff’s Office continues to increase about 5% a year.
Questions that policy makers might want to consider are
- Why is McHenry County continuing with these Federal programs to house illegal aliens and Federal prisoners when the cost of the operation exceeded revenue by $26 million to $30 million during 2008-2012?
- Why has the Sheriff allowed this program to continue when it does not generate enough revenue to pay for itself and requires local taxpayers to subsidize the Federal government?
- Why has the Sheriff’s Office been unable to control costs?
- On what has the $4 million per year been budgeted for, but not spent on housing Federal detainees and prisoners been spent by the Sheriff?