Limited space

The Vigo County Jail has been over-populated and has been forced to house inmates at other facilities in the Wabash Valley.

With little discussion, the Vigo County Council Tuesday approved $750,000 for the care of patients and inmates for the Vigo County Jail.

“We all know what we are dealing with in the jail here,” Council President Rick Burger said prior to the vote.

In 2002, Vigo County entered into an agreement with American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (then the Indiana Civil Liberties Union) for the county jail population not to exceed 268. However, the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit in 2013 claiming a breach of that agreement, saying the population was 293. After that lawsuit, the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department has been shipping out inmates to other county jails and sends daily prison inmate count reports to the ACLU of Indiana.

In a letter to the council and reviewed before a council committee, Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing said the county is housing an average of 75 inmates per day in other jail facilities. Based on a daily rate of $35 per inmate for 270 days (based on a start date in April), the jail would need $750,000 to pay to house inmates for the rest of this year.

County Auditor Tim Seprodi said the three-quarters of a million dollars marks the highest payout for care of inmates from any previous year.

In a related sheriff issue, the council approved an $87,000 appropriation for an overtime pay line item for the sheriff’s department. Ewing, in a letter to the council and reviewed by a council committee, said that “previously overtime pay was not an issue because of staff vacancies which left funds to utilize for overtime payout,” Ewing said.

“Now that we are at full staffing levels, the need has arisen to address this shortfall in overtime as outlined in the [county] salary ordinance.”

In other business, the council for a second time approved refinancing of bonds issued in 2007 to make improvements on a former Pfizer property for a proposed Exubera plant. Pfizer later nixed the project and pulled out of Vigo County. The council approved refinancing of those bonds and a new six-year bond not to exceed $4.3 million. The move will save the county $140,000 in interest payments, said Jason Selmer, an accountant for the Indianapolis account firm H.J. Umbaugh & Associates.

Selmer said annual payments in the new bond will not escalate, but would keep annual payments the same at about $750,000 a year.

In some other action, the council also:

n Approved $135,000 to integrate past and future property record cards into a property card management system software. The measure will eliminate the use of paper index cards that can be placed into a wrong file or lost and eliminate errors from handwritten notes.

n Approved the addition of a special deputy at $31,395 to provide security to the Vigo County Annex as well as additional security to the nearby Vigo County Juvenile Center. The cost is more than $68,000 to the county with insurance, Social Security and state retirement costs.

n Up to $30,000 from the county’s Rainy Day fund for repair of Deming Park pool. Commissioner Brad Anderson said the city has received donations for repair of the pool, but the county also wants to see the pool operational as Vigo County children can swim at the city park facility. Anderson said the county will seek itemized expenses and “pay only what is needed. If they need $5,000, we will pay that, if they don’t need any additional money than what has been donated, we will not pay. We are not just handing the money over,” Anderson said.

n Approved a more than $18,300 transfer from the General Fund into the county health department for radios for its vector control department. The county’s highway department switched from analog to digital radios, making the department’s current radios obsolete, as they piggyback on the highway department’s radio system. Also, approved a transfer of more than $10,000 to provide two seasonal part-time positions for the Vigo County Building Inspection Department for grass mowing.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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