MCLENNAN COUNTY (May 21, 2013)--How much are you paying to house an inmate in McLennan County?
For years county officials have wrestled with the Jack Harwell Detention Center on Highway 6. It’s a place where the county pays a private vendor to house and care for the overflow of inmates from the McLennan County Jail.
As jail population continues to rise, housing the overflow of inmates has turned out to be a costly endeavor for the county.
“Last year we were 3 million dollars over budget on care and feed of prisoners at the Jack Harwell Detention Center. This year we've already gone through an additional 3 million dollars, so that’s 6 million dollars we’re over so far,” McLennan County Commissioner Kelly Snell said.
“Not to mention, we recently just paid $95,000 more to pay last month's bill."
With money as tight as it is, jail administration in McLennan County is constantly looking for ways to save.
"Taxpayers always want you to make sure you're spending their money wisely,” McLennan County Jail Administrator John Kolinek said.
“So if there's something we can review from a savings stand point, that’s something we always look at."
Kolinek says in the past months he and jail staff have found a way to save thousands of dollars for the county and taxpayers.
The county lockup has served breakfast to inmates with milk in a carton for years.
But after some research, Kolinek says he and jail staff found switching to powdered milk would save the county nearly $30,000 a year.
"A carton of milk costs us about 22 cents and moving to this powdered style milk will drop the cost to 13 cents a serving,” Kolinek said.
“When you add that up with the amount of meals we serve a year and the average amount of inmates we have, it will save the county approximately $30,000.”
Inmates at the jail began receiving powdered milk earlier this May.
The change was announced in Tuesday’s Commissioners’ Court meeting and had good reception according to Commissioner Snell.
“Every little bit can help the budget, and if we can save $30,000 by doing this, then I appreciate that,” Snell said.
As jail administration continues to look for more ways to cut costs, they’re hoping this is one solution that doesn’t spoil.
“Anytime we can save the taxpayers money, then absolutely I would say we’re proud of that,” Kolinek said.