An appropriation ordinance to amend existing appropriation ordinance 2019-102, the 2020 budget, to provide a supplemental appropriation from the 1000 Styled County General Fund to 1803-0418 Styled Juvenile Justice Center fund to reflect the 2020 budget was a concern for the justices because the money requested wasn't available.
Resolutions and ordinance appropriations were agenda heavy during Jefferson County Quorum Court Meeting on Tuesday, June 2 but the discussion of closing the juvenile detention center was the spark and bulk of the conversation during the two hour meeting.
An appropriation ordinance to amend existing appropriation ordinance 2019-102, the 2020 budget, to provide a supplemental appropriation from the 1000 Styled County General Fund to 1803-0418 Styled Juvenile Justice Center fund to reflect the 2020 budget was a concern for the justices because the money requested wasn’t available.
Public Safety Committee, Chairman Jimmy Lee Fisher, Sr. pointed out the amount available for appropriation, if tax revenues are accurate, $197,945.52 which the treasurer confirmed.
“That’s stating if the sales tax revenue remains as projected June through December,” said Fisher.
He pointed out a shortfall of $708.254.29 due to the budget that Jefferson County Judge XXXXXX Lafayette Woods submitted for approval in the amount of $906,199.81
Justice Dr. Conley F. Byrd asked would the juvenile justice center be able to function with the rate they were spending. Byrd was concerned at the current rate of spending, they would be in the deficient.
“We can’t appropriate money we don’t have,” said Byrd. “My suggestion is we approve two months now and revisit it later.”
Comparing it to “kicking a can down the road” Byrd said funding for six months for the requested amount wasn’t likely.
“They are going to have to start stretching their expenditures somewhere or another to be able to get to the end of the year,” said Byrd. “I think we need be very cautious as the Quorum Court.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods described his needs as a necessary evil stating even with the sales tax, it is still difficult to walk away with a clean slate.
“With everything that is going on with expenditures, if you look, there is revenue shortage in some areas,” said Woods.
Woods explained stretching the money spent in areas is already being done by his office but some expenses are out of his control.
“When we’re mandated or ordered to lock somebody up, we don’t have a choice but to accept them and feed them,” explained Woods.
He goes on to explain how all the services provided from man power to medical services cost money.
“It’s a necessary evil,” said Woods. “We’re doing all we can. We’re working shorthanded. Looking at what we feed juveniles but even in that, there’s a standard.”
Though Byrd said he has not suggested the juvenile justice system shut down, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson said that is a possibility they may have to face.
Robinson said with how the governor has changed going from a detention to more of a therapeutic type, there’s been a decline in populations. Robinson also pointed out that funds received from juvenile programs in the past are no longer rendered.
Jefferson County Juvenile Detention Center has a capacity of 87 but only 21 juveniles are housed currently.
“You cannot appropriate what you don’t have,” said Robinson when explaining the continue decline in revenue.
Stating it would be a temporary closure once revenue increased, Robinson said with the way things are going, when it all comes to face, the money is just not there.
“We may face the possibility that we temporarily close the juvenile detention center,” said Robinson. “Do I want that to happen? No. I wish we didn’t have to look at it that way.”
Woods explained everything he purchases is absolutely necessary but Budget and Finance Chairman Ted Harden replied Woods would have to operate within his means.
“We can’t pull the money out of the sky,” said Harden.
An identical appropriation ordinance for the adult jail fund was also on the agenda which fell in the same boat as the juvenile justice center when it came to funding.
A motion was made with adjustments and was carried for both the juvenile justice center and adult jail fund to reflect the 2020 budget.