Housing federal inmates would raise enough money to retain 54 deputies.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- If the Mahoning County budget commission approves a proposal next week opening the door for more federal inmates to be housed in the county jail, no deputy sheriffs will be laid off.
Fifty-four deputies are scheduled to be handed pink slips at 10 p.m. Monday because of budget cuts within the department.
Sheriff Randall Wellington last week suggested that the county begin double-bunking inmates at the county jail, concentrating county inmates in certain pods. That would free up space in other pods to house federal inmates, for which the county is reimbursed by the federal government.
Wellington said the county has historically been paid about $57,000 a month for holding the federal inmates, most of whom are awaiting arraignment or sentencing in federal court.
He wants that revenue, which goes into a general fund pool of money, to be earmarked for jail operation. If it is, he'll have enough money to keep the deputies on the job.
County Administrator Gary Kubic said the budget commission would have to approve the move. The commission, made up of the county auditor, prosecutor and treasurer, is to discuss the matter Monday, Wellington said.
"If they approve it, I'll jot out an order that afternoon and the layoff notices will be nullified," the sheriff said.
The state has given permission for the county to double-bunk inmates, Wellington said. That couldn't be done during a 1999 fiscal crisis because the county was under a federal court order at the time, which governed how the jail was run.
Kubic said commissioners set aside about $250,000 earlier this year to pay for installing extra bunks in the pods. They did that to ensure that no county inmates would have to be released in the event of deputy layoffs.
"We want to make sure that, first and foremost, there is no early release of county inmates," he said.