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County approves medical contracts for jail, correctional institute

POSTED: July 24, 2014 8:40 p.m.

Despite concerns about rising costs and how to pay for them, the Hall County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to approve contracts for medical services at the jail and correctional institution.

Commissioner Craig Lutz cast the lone dissent.

“The problem I have is that this funding could potentially be coming from our reserves,” he said. “One of the primary reasons I didn’t vote for the budget to begin with is because I felt like it was leaning too heavily on our reserves.”

The adopted 2015 fiscal year budget includes the use of about $3.2 million in reserve funds to cover shortfalls.

Meanwhile, increases in the costs of providing medical and nursing care to inmates were not approved in the budget.

Most of the approximately $70,000 in additional expenses is related to the jail, which has beds for about 1,100 inmates. The correctional institution, meanwhile, houses fewer than 300 inmates.

Warden Walt Davis said expenses for the correctional institution would go up only about $2,600 over the next year.

“Barring some major catastrophe, I have (the money) in my budget to make up the difference,” Davis said.

Sheriff’s office officials also said they could potentially cover the increases at the jail within their approved budget, but added medical expenses can be fluid, depending on the number of inmates and their health issues.

Much of the cost increase is associated with a 10 percent raise for Dr. Linwood Zoller, who took a voluntary 5 percent pay cut in recent years as budget deficits plagued the county.

The correctional institution contract for Zoller is worth about $35,000.

The total cost of providing medical services at the jail is about $792,000.

According to law enforcement officials, it costs Hall County about $3.50 per day to provide medical care for each inmate. The average cost in the state is more than $7.


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