Friday, August 19, 2011

Does Sheriff receive $12,000 salary supplement?

Semantics of the budget records have shifted to murky waters

Reporting by R.S. Gates
Story by The Legendary Jim Parks

Waco - There seems to be no answer forthcoming to a fair question.

Does McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch, in fact, receive a salary supplement of $12,000 per year for monitoring and administrative duties supervising a contract to house prisoners of McLennan County at a privately operated facility, the Jack Harwell Detention Center on Highway 6?

The matter is one of some confusion because the notes in the salary budget schedule for FY 2011 say that the payments of $1,000 per month are “contingent upon receipt of funds paid the contractor for housing of federal prisoners at the downtown jail annex.”
There are no prisoners housed in that jail.

They were all moved to the Jack Harwell Detention Center, operated by CEC (Civigenics), last summer.

In the present budget proposal, the semantics have changed.

The notations for the salary budget schedule for 2012 say that “The Sheriff receives a salary supplement of $12,000 for monitoring and administrative responsibilities relating to county detention facilities operated for the county by a contractor.”
Salary Schedule
The semantics of these two statements differ from those published for the 2009 budget proposal, which read, in part:

(3) The sheriff's salary may be supplementted from non-tax revenues up to $12,000 for detention monitoring compensation subject to, and contingent upon actual receipt of monitoring reimbursement funds under the Facility Lease, Operation and Management Agreement regarding the housing of Federal Prisoners at the Downtown Jail.

This means that the sheriff receives the salary supplement, but there are no records to show that he does, or that he conducts regular monitoring or administrative supervision of the facility.

So, what are the true facts? Either the potential for the salary supplement exists, but the sheriff is paid no funds because the contractor is not in receipt of funds from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, or the policy has changed and taxpayers fund the supplement. Which is it?

There would be records if the sheriff paid supervisory inspection visits or monitored administrative records.
In fact, no such records exist, according to Chief Deputy Randy Plemons, a candidate to take Sheriff Lynch's place in the elections of 2012.
Despite repeated requests to the Sheriff's Department, the Budget Director, the County Treasurer, and County Judge's office, no official of the county has been able to supply an answer to the question of whether, in fact, the Sheriff receives such payments.

No agency or department of the county government has written records of monitoring or administration of the jail facilities operated by a private contractor.

It is a fair question, one that is worth $12,000 to McLennan County's taxpayers, but there is no answer in sight.

According to an Attorney General's Opinion, there is no provision in the law for an elected official to receive any other funds than those of his designated salary.

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