Porter County Jail to get audit of expenses
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 19, 2013 4:42PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:28AM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Board of Commissioners, in agreement with the county council, will be asking H.J. Umbaugh and Associates to evaluate expenses at the Porter County Jail.
Those expenses could jump by more than $1.2 million for additional medical staffing at the jail, and increase even further when the county opens the jail’s third pod to alleviate overcrowding.
The goal, Commissioners President John Evans, R-North, said during a meeting Tuesday, will be to get a handle on any income coming into the jail as that facility’s expenses increase.
“I think we’ve been transparent the whole time,” with the civil bureau and firearms funds, said Sheriff David Lain, who did not know the matter was coming up before the meeting. “We’ve remained overcrowded in the best interest of the county.”
Bringing in Umbaugh is not meant to be adversarial, Evans said, but is to see what expenses the jail is covering and how much it is bringing in.
“The audit by Umbaugh will put is in a position to know what funds are available for anything and everything,” Evans said.
The county already has a contract with Umbaugh for a fiscal analysis of the county. The additional work on the jail would be added to that contract, Evans said, adding a fee has not been settled for the work. He said the commissioners and some members of the council have been discussing an evaluation of jail expenses for some time.
Commissioners are expected to finalize the agreement with Umbaugh and select a firm to provide medical services at the jail at their April 2 meeting.
The jail has had a contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for medical services for the past few years, at a cost of $300,000 a year, Lain said. That contract expired at the end of last year but has been renewed on a month-to-month basis as Lain explored other options for medical and mental health care at the jail.
A report from the National Institute of Corrections last year said medical staffing at the jail was inadequate, and Lain has said that there is no one on-site overnight, leading to costly, and sometimes unnecessary, emergency room runs.
He also is concerned about what a lawsuit over the lack of medical care could cost the county.
The jail has three nurses on duty now, and an additional two positions are not filled. The NIC recommended 12 nurses, as well as the addition of mental health staff, Lain said. That service is provided now on an acute basis by Porter-Starke Services.
All told, a new medical contract could cost the county more than $1.5 million a year.
“It’s to ensure the constitutional requirement of inmate care,” he said.