Marion County commissioners were not pleased at their Jan. 31 meeting with news of a $30,000 increase in the budget from 2010 to 2011 for housing juveniles at the Junction City detention center .
Susan Robson, county attorney, explained why the amount jumped substantially.
?Last year, Marion County used 158 days of the Juvenile Justice Authority detention center,? she said. ?Forty-five of those days were the county?s. The rest are JJA days, which are days the center charged the state for.?
But North Central Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention, she said, is charging the county for the entire 158 days at $140 per day, which equals $22,120.
In 2011, the detention center is going to charge Marion County with 346 days at $140 per day or $48,440. The center also will charge the state for JJA days.
Robson said her office also checked with Morris and Dickinson counties to see if they were experiencing similar concerns.
?In Dickinson, like Marion County, the days more than doubled and Morris County went up substantially,? she said.
In addition, none of the counties were told by the detention center they could opt out, or they were told about the increase after the opt-out date had passed.
Dickinson County is planning to opt out of the center next year, Robosn said.
?They plan on taking juveniles to the Saline Juvenile Detention Center for $20 a night,? she said. ?Saline is farther for us, but a significant difference in cost.?
Robson said one option could be to stay with Junction City Detention Center and pay $140 per night or pay $100 a night in Reno County, but it would be a farther drive.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said he had some concerns about this issue.
?I am not sure if they are overstaffed or understaffed,? he said of the center. ?Spending this kind of money makes me wonder what is happening up there.?
Although Dallke admits he hasn?t been to detention center board meetings, he would like to know if they are operating efficiently. He said a couple of years ago the detention board asked the center to use up its $800,000 surplus.
County Clerk Carol Maggard said that is one reason the charge has been increased.
?We were getting charged about $40 a day, but part of this increase was to get their surplus built back up.?
Commissioner Dan Holub said he would like to know if it is feasible to house juveniles overnight locally in a new jail facility.
?I just wonder what it would take to have an overnight facility built into a new jail, but separate from the adults,? he said.
The problem, Robson said, is that being charged for 346 days use in 2011 is unrealistic.
?We don?t come close to using that number of days,? she said.
In 2008 and 2009, the center indicated Marion County used 342 and 328 days, respectively, but Robson said that included JJA days the state paid for.
?They want to also charge us for those days and bill the state, as far as I can tell,? she said.
Holub said he believes the center is using more days to justify its budget.
?JJA should be totally out of the (county?s) equation,? he said.
Dallke asked Robson if JJA used 113 days on one person. Robson said it was different people.
The way the system works, she said, is JJA is funded by the state and provides foster care for juvenile offenders.
?If we see that someone is going to be long-term in our community,? she said, ?we will put in JJA custody and then it becomes responsible at the detention center and from there to a residential place.?
The commissioners directed Robson to write a letter to the detention center requesting information.
Robson asked to be placed on the agenda in early March after Shawn Brandmahl, director at North Central Kansas Regional Detention Center, provides a funding proposal to Marion County.
Before any decision to opt out of the center is discussed, Dallke said he would like to hear from all sides. That would mean checking with Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody, Goessel and other police departments in the county.
?If we did look at other options, we would need to check on road time and not pick a place three hours away (for these other departments),? Robson said.
One option suggested was Sedgwick County because it would be close to Peabody and only one hour from Marion.
?I just want to make sure what are options are before we make a statement about opting out,? Dallke said.
Robson said she apologized for not seeing this coming and would have told the commissioners had she known.
Holub said he missed it too.
In other business, the commissioners:
— approved Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft?s recommendation to pay Wilma Mueller, new criminal investigator, $16.58 per hour, effective Jan. 21.
— agreed to sign an equitable sharing agreement. Craft said the document is necessary in order to receive money back from the U.S. government involving drug seizures Marion County assisted with.
— approved the purchase of office furniture in the county attorney?s office through Office Plus. Originally, Robson had bids for the office furniture for two employees, but because of budget constraints, the expense was split in 2010 and 2011.
— announced the county is negotiating with four landowners to purchase property across the street from the Marion County Courthouse.
?There are three empty buildings, an empty lot and one rental housing a family that will vacate those premises in April or May,? Dallke said.
The negotiation deadline is Feb. 22, but at this time the commissioners have no plans regarding the use of the property.
— accepted a bid from Rod?s Tire & Service in Hillsboro for eight new truck tires at $2,016. Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa submitted a bid of $2,654.