Sheriff, commission discuss rising medical expenses at jail
by Jennifer Cohron
Jun 25, 2014 | 2140 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sheriff John Mark Tirey discussed several serious budget issues with members of the Walker County Commission during a work session Tuesday.

According to a budget report circulated during the meeting, there will be a shortfall of $117,653 at the jail and $92,428 at the sheriff’s department by the end of the fiscal year.

Increased medical expenses is contributing to the bulk of the problem in the jail’s budget.

The annual appropriation of $288,000 has already been depleted. An additional $86,251 will be needed to cover those costs through the end of the year.

“Catastrophic illnesses and admissions to the hospital are quite expensive. I can’t predict if that is going to happen any more than y’all can,” Tirey said.

Chairman Billy Luster said the county has received bills totaling more than $337,000 for 62-year-old Wanda Faye Kiser, who spent several weeks in intensive care while awaiting trial on forgery charges in the case of two missing elderly women.

Kiser was eventually released from custody at the request of Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair.

The county has paid approximately $35,000 for Kiser’s medical expenses and is seeking reimbursement.

“Under the advice of our attorney, until we finish litigating with her insurance company, we don’t want to incur any more of those expenses for the county right now,” Luster said.

The jail is also overbudget in the areas of health insurance, life insurance, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning, contract services, cleaning and janitorial services, food preparation and miscellaneous supplies.

The line item for building maintenance and repairs is in good shape in spite of an upgrade on locks that became necessary after two inmates briefly escaped in March.

The commission paid Harvest, Ala.-based company Cornerstone Institutional, LLC approximately $20,000 to do a complete evaluation of all doors and locks at the jail.

Luster said the perimeter doors have now been secured.

Tirey also warned commissioners about some roof repairs that will soon be necessary at the jail.

“My best projection is that we could make spot repairs to get us through to the next budget for roughly $3,000 or $4,000,” Tirey said.

Tirey said there is some money available that can be transferred within the budget to cover a portion of the projected deficits.

For example, he is prepared to transfer approximately $10,000 out of the line item for overtime wages, which currently has a $39,692 surplus.

During the budget discusssion, commissioner Bobby Nunnelley asked Tirey to investigate a possible leak that may be contributing to a $10,000 water bill at the jail.

“All the plumbing is basically underneath in the slab. We’ve had about three incidents I can recall in the past six or seven years where a big line ruptured under there. I’m not aware of any (leaks), but I’ll be happy to check,” Tirey said.