Sheriff’s Staff Down 7%, Big Contracts Costing Less

A press release from McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim:


Bill Prim

Bill Prim

More is being accomplished with less in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Bill Prim announced Tuesday in a report to the public after 16 months as chief law enforcement officer of the county.

Over the period December 1, 2014, until March 31, 2016, the number of employees (full-time equivalents) for the MCSO is down 6.6%, dropping from 407 staff members in FY 2014 to 380 currently.

Meanwhile, the jail has made progress from a drag on the county treasury to a profit center, and is currently on track to deposit close to $6 million into the county general fund in FY 2016.

These and other changes in the Sheriff’s Office business operations point to an administration that is providing increased value to the taxpayers without negative impact on public safety.

“I have made it a keystone of my administration to be a prudent steward of the taxpayers’ money and we are starting to see results from that emphasis,” Sheriff Prim remarked.

The number of detainees using day room of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement floor has stabilized.

The number of detainees using day room of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement floor has stabilized.

The jail saw the biggest reductions, shedding 26 employees as retirements and resignations reduced the bulge of employees that resulted from hiring when the number of federal contract prisoners was at its peak. Another 12 budget positions were cut from elsewhere in the MCSO.

Further economies were secured by rebidding both the jail food service and medical service contracts.

The food contract had not been bid for approximately 10 years, Prim administration officials found shortly after taking office. After rebidding, the vendor (Aramark) remained but the annual cost of food service dropped by more than $260,000.

Similarly, the inmate medical service contract vendor remained the same (CCS) after rebidding but that contractor significantly downscaled its initial bid as the process unfolded. Gross costs should therefore decrease if the number of patients and severity of their complaints remain unchanged from FY2015.

The MCSO was also able to secure a commitment from CCS to install and equip a dental office within the jail, which should open shortly, saving labor costs over the prior need to transport inmates weekly to and from a dental office in the community.

The other major factor in rectifying the jail’s cost structure was halting the trend toward dwindling numbers of federal contract prisoners, which help to subsidize jail operations and county expenditures generally.

Since mid-2014, when the number of U.S. Marshal’s Service prisoners abruptly dropped to zero and remained there, these contract prisoners have come from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which reimburses McHenry County a daily fee for housing prisoners.

From an all-time high of 280 daily average ICE prisoners in 2011, the number dropped to 236 in 2012 and sank even further to 179 in 2013.

The years 2014 and 2015 were roughly equivalent to 2013, but the downward slide has been halted under the Prim administration, and in the light of dramatic jail staff reductions, what was arguably a losing situation for taxpayers has become a net plus for the county treasury. Early 2016 shows an uptick in the daily average to 192.

The Prim administration cautioned that there are many factors that go into deciding where ICE prisoners will be housed, and there are multiple facilities in different states that are willing to accept them, so any recent increase may be temporary, but at least a years-long slide appears to be halted.

Other improvements include the naming of MCSO as a Public Safety Answering Point, which is essentially a fire/police answering and dispatch center.

MCSO is one of only three PSAPs which survived a state-mandated process to cut in half the number of such centers.

Prim said he is very proud of the dispatch center and looks forward to continuing to serve the public with the utmost professionalism. The MCSO PSAP is the only center with dual accreditation for Communications and Law Enforcement in McHenry County.

Finally, the MCSO SWAT was expanded to include officers from various municipalities.

Tryouts for the MCSO SWAT were held and a total of 10 officers from various police departments participated, which was an encouraging start. Of the 10, two were selected to train with the MCSO SWAT and go on a standby basis if needed in an actual incident.

MCSO SWAT will hold another SWAT tryout in April 2016, and several agencies have expressed an interest in having members from their respective departments try out.

“Folding in officers from McHenry cities, villages and towns will enhance our capabilities; bolster our trained manpower for protracted callouts; and further build upon our relationships with the local police departments in the county,” Prim said.


Sheriff’s Staff Down 7%, Big Contracts Costing Less — 15 Comments

  1. Sheriff, thank you for all you and your team’s efforts on behalf of the residents of McHenry County.

    You are true to your word and a breath of fresh air after the disgusting years of Nygren!!


    Many years of beneficial experience.

    Working drug issues with customs teaches you a lot about money,

    Lot’s of administrative experience.

    He resume is impressive and we all benefit.

  3. Attaboy! …..

    And unlike his predecessor, he was actually to be found in the County!

  4. Matt Haiduk, the joy comes from an elected official who comes through on his promises.

    If you find that “scary” you won’t be scared very often.

  5. That Sheriff Prim is doing what he promised is a breath of fresh air and I thank him profusely!

    I do agree, the number of people incarcerated in our country is a scary number.

    My question is: Are we imprisoning the right people?

    What if we placed all politicians who lie in prison and set free the people who are there due to being convicted of crimes far less serious?

  6. @Questioning —

    If I read the press release correctly, the income from the jail is coming from federal contracts with the Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement– not necessarily from county prisoners.

  7. Matt, you just need to drink some of this here kool-aid and you’ll see how great this is

  8. Thank you sherrif Prim we appreciate your keen leadership and sharp business skills.

    What a comprehensive and fact filled analysis.

    Keep up the great job you are doing!

  9. Agreed Matt!

    And somehow prisoners are ‘paying customers’ according to County Board Member Kurtz.

    Don’t these so called fiscal conservatives realize it’s still our (federal) tax dollars funding the jail?

  10. Re:

    “Don’t these so called fiscal conservatives realize it’s still our (federal) tax dollars funding the jail?”

    Obviously the majority does not.

    Last night again they approved more spending of those dollars and also caved to the union extortion attempt!

    Lotsa current (and future) Board members with an R behind their name even though they are socialists/ communists.

    Last night Mary McCann again proved that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.