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Where Does The Money Go?
We get asked every now and then where the money goes that comes from the housing contracts in the jail. We also get asked if those contracts will create more crime in Vernon County. The quick and simple answer is we do not keep the money and no, it does not bring crime to our county. But let’s take a more detailed look at both of those questions.
The way finances and income work in the Sheriff’s Office and Jail are set by Missouri statute and work the same in each county. When we collect money, we must turn over every penny to the county general revenue fund at the end of each month. We cannot spend some of it first or hold any of it back. Everything we collect is turned over. We can only spend what was given to us in our budget by the county commission regardless of how much revenue we bring into the county. The revenue from housing does however help reduce the cost to the taxpayers when our budget is created.
When it comes to housing, the Kansas City housing contract is one of the best written contracts (in Vernon County’s favor) that we have had. The wording in the contract says that “no inmates shall be released in Vernon County and must be transported back to Kansas City before being released.” Under this contract we only hold inmates on city charges, meaning no violent crime or felony charged people are brought here from Kansas City. The average hold time for KC inmates is 2-30 days so they are mostly easy to get along with because they are not going to be here very long and know they will be getting out soon.
Unlike contracts from other agencies, we do not deal with any inmate property, bonding or release paperwork as that is all handled in KC. We simply give them a bed and feed them. For this service, Vernon County will collect approximately 1 million dollars this year, which again, goes directly to the Vernon County general revenue, not the Sheriff’s Office.
This revenue has helped the county provide a budget that will pay for a new court security position, three new jobs in the jail and help to continue paying for the bailiff, additional jail staff and additional deputies that have been added over the past few years.
Any time we can bring money in from other counties to help pay for the services we can provide to our citizens, it is a good thing.