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Fultons cuts in jail funds could affect Halls budget
Fulton paid Hall $1.7M in 2012 to house inmates
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A recent penny-pinching measure by Fulton County could impact the Hall County Sheriff’s Office budget.

Hall County will likely see less revenue from Fulton County after the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 to cut funds for renting bed space in other jails, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Jessica Corbitt, spokeswoman for Fulton County, said the vote last Wednesday cut $700,000 from the inmate outsourcing program. Another $300,000 was cut by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office as part of a general budget reduction. A total of $1 million was cut to Fulton’s program for the 2013 budget.

Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Eaves said the money will go toward alternative sentencing and programs to reduce the number of repeat offenders, hopefully lowering the jail’s population, the AJC reported.

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said that before Fulton’s commission voted to make the cut, the office had been giving the issue a hard look.

“We’ve had the board-in program for a number of years. We’re going through a process of review to see what the true costs are versus the revenue that comes in,” he said. “Previous studies may not include all the costs. We’re looking at every single cost involved in the program.”

Those costs range from basic needs to bureaucratic paperwork, he said.

“Food, water, power, clothing, security, transportation, medical, court,” he listed. “Everything.”

Records show that Fulton paid Hall County almost $1.7 million to house inmates through December 2012 to cover the $35 per day per inmate fee charged by Hall County to board them.

Couch isn’t worried for the immediate future, and said the office is “currently on track for revenue projections for 2013.”

He said he couldn’t speculate on 2014.

“I can say this, all of the divisions within the sheriff’s office were under the budget across the board this year,” he said.

Hall County will deal with the impact, whatever it is, of Fulton’s vote, he said.

“If there’s revenue, or loss of revenue, we will adjust our budgets accordingly. We will be very conservative, and continue to do so in near future,” Couch said, adding, “There’s still a lot of areas where we can save money. I truly feel and believe that.”

Fulton commissioners cited empty beds in the main facility to justify the cuts. Last year, Fulton spent $4.1 million to house inmates elsewhere.

But the Fulton lockup’s chief jailer, Mark Adger, disagreed. He said that some female inmates will have to sleep on the floor after the county commissioners’ vote.

Adger also said that the move would eliminate flexibility in separating women from men and keeping gang members apart.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.