Juvenile costs may jump $30,000

The Marion County Commis?sioners were not pleased at their Jan. 31 meeting with news of a $30,000 increase in the budget from 2010 to 2011 in 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,? Robson 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, she said, the detention center is going to charge Marion County with 346 days at $140 per day or $48,440, plus the center will also charge the state for JJA days.

While looking into this, 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 told the amounts until after the opt-out date.

Robson said Dickinson County is planning to opt out of the center next year.

?They plan on taking juveniles to the Saline Juvenile Detention Center for $20 a night,? she said. ?Saline is further for us (to drive), but a significant difference in cost.?

Robson said one option could be to stay with Junction City Detention Center and pay $140 on a per night basis or pay $100 a night in Reno County, but it would be a further drive.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he had some concerns about this issue.

?I am not sure if they are overstaffed or understaffed (in Junction City),? he said. ?Spending this kind of money makes me wonder what is happening up there.?

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 showed Marion County using 342 and 328 days respectively, but again Robson said that included JJA days that 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 they are using more days to justify their 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 explained, 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 also 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 involved.

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,? Robson said.


For the full report of this meeting, go to hillsborofreepress.com.

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