County approves addition to jail workforce, issues debt for maintenance projects

BY ALEXANDRIA RANDOLPH/BURNET BULLETIN

 

Commissioners voted to unfreeze eight Burnet County Jail staff positions and to issue debt for county road maintenance projects during commissioners' court on Tuesday, June 14.

“We're seeing an increase in call volume lately,” said Burnet County Chief Deputy Joe Canady. “Part of that is because it's summer and we get an influx of people who don't live here full time… We've also seen increases of local arrests.”

Canady also added the jail is seeing an increase in demand for inmate housing from other counties.

“We now take all of Hamilton County's inmates. They have not temporary holding facility,” he said.

Canady told commissioners that the jail houses between 220 and 240 inmates on a regular basis, and the jail is only allowed to house 240 inmates based on staff size. These limits were set by Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley said for each inmate population bracket there are eight staff positions required.

After what County Auditor Karen Lester said was “conservative budgeting,” she said the next bracket of inmate population would “bring in revenue of $50,000 a month. Opening these eight positions required would cost about $40,000 (per month).”

Canady said that federal law enforcement agencies have occasional asked Burnet to house additional inmates, but the jail didn't have room at the time.

“We didn't have the space to take a few more,” he said.

“We're bumping into that 240 limit pretty consistently,” Lester added.

Commissioners voted unanimously to unfreeze eight positions at the county jail.

In another discussion at the meeting, commissioners discussed the possibility of issuing additional debt service since there was a timely opportunity to do so without increasing the tax rate to pay for the debt.

“We have the opportunity to improve county infrastructure without increasing the tax rate,” Lester said.

The county will be able to adopt a $4 million bond to complete county road maintenance projects.     

“Four million is not a lot to spend on infrastructure, but its what we've got,” said Bill Neve, Commissioner Pct. 1.

 

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