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Jail administrator proposes budget increase for new staff, repairs

Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department and Detention Center have plans to hire more staff, add extra guards and carry out more repairs in the 2021-2022 budget proposals.

Jail administrator Johnny McDonald said the position for licensed practical nurse has been open since last year but no one has accepted the position and there is an open maintenance position as well.

The positions for maintenance worker and licensed practical nurse are still open due to unfit applicants or lack of applications completely, but the new proposal could remedy that.

When the detention center opened the job last year, the offered salary for the LPN position was $18 per hour. However, the starting pay for LPNs is $20 per hour, so the it is necessary to up the salary accordingly to draw in more applicants.

Also, extra guards are needed in the center for better security and a better response time to stopping problems. The estimated cost of hiring four additional guards to the four guards already stationed at the correction’s facility comes out to $144,000.

“Usually it takes to two to three guards to do booking especially on a busy day,” McDonald said. “It’d be better if we had a guard to sit in the far-end pods between rounds just in case a fight was to break out. It wouldn’t take 30 seconds, we would know right then.”

According to Sheriff Joey East, these six additions could increase the total employment of both departments from the estimated 95 employees, well into 100-plus employees.

The budget for repair and maintenance of the 28-year-old correction’s facility by outside personnel increased from 2020-2021’s $35,000 to 2021-2022’s $45,000.

The $10,000 increase will cover the cost of hiring local businesses to upkeep the building and an extra $2,500 for supplies to paint the inside of the jail.

“It’s just old and everything is going up,” McDonald said. “We need new hinges on doors and a repairman is over [at the facility] all the time welding and working on stuff.”

“A maintenance man could drop [the budget price] a bit, but as of right now, I need it.”

Other budget additions include a $45,000 increase for Cobra Security Inc., a service that monitors inmates during stints in the hospital.

An extra $23,238 to cover the cost of four guards completing the STEP program, allowing them to get a pay increase.

In addition, an extra $40,000 for the department to house more juveniles since rates are shooting up across the state.

If the board were to approve the budget proposal for the detention center, the total would increase by $66,006 to $3,751,082 from last year’s $3,685,076. The sheriff’s department budget proposal is $6,789,141, compared to last year’s $6,661,314. The proposed budget total for Enhanced 911’s Support Services department is $1,088,148, an increase from $1,068,871.