Friday, September 7, 2012

Jail commissary fund has enough to rewire building

In terms of theater, the dialogue is merely the strophe and antistrophe of the portent of what is to come
Sheriff bought microwaves from 'proceeds' of popcorn and pizza

Waco – Microwave ovens that trip overloaded circuits aren't that big a problem, after all. Sales of all those personal pizzas, bags of popcorn, bars of soap and bottles of shampoo can pay to upgrade the system – with ease.

Controversy that arose over a proposal to spend $85,000 in taxpayer funds to re-wire and upgrade circuit breakers at the McLennan County Jail was needless.

Sheriff Larry Lynch has the money to do the job. It's in the jail commissary fund, a cumulative sum over which he has sole custody.

According to a monthly audit conducted by County Auditor Stan Chambers, the fund finished fiscal year 2011 with an “increase” in proceeds of $40,715 – a term that in the private sector would be called a “profit.”

Proceeds are received from a caterer who handles the procurement of items for sale. That contractor pays a commission to the Sheriff's Office, which forwards the money to the Auditor to be placed in a special separate account.

In 2011, those commissions totaled $187,815. Expenditures were $147,100. As of day one of fiscal year 2012, there was a balance of $278,715 in the Jail Commissary Fund, according to Mr. Chambers.

“When they buy something, they forward the invoice to my office for payment,” Mr. Chambers explained. “It's just like any other transaction.”

In fact, that's how, over the years, the microwave ovens were acquired.

It's all perfectly legal, since administrative rules of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and state laws allow funds to be spent on equipment or upgrades that would promote the welfare of the inmates – items such as law books, Bibles, mental health, alcohol or drug abuse counseling, games and equipment.

You can't spend the money on salaries of Sheriff's Officers, remodeling the building, or police equipment such as mace and body armor.

Numerous Attorney General opinions and case law have held that it's okay to put money from sales of various “sundries” such as phone cards into the Jail Commissiary Fund – and not the General Fund.

Commissioner Joe Mashek suggested paying for the re-wiring job out of the fund during budget talks, something that, it turns out, is totally correct, if the Court chooses to do so.

1 comment:

  1. yawn, enough with the old news....

    If you really want to talk about something involving the county, why don't you go after something like how there are so many exempt employees in mclennan county that get to come and go as they please and yet still charge the tax payers for 40 hours of work each week (so long as you are there for a few hours out of the day, exempt employees simply put W's down for worked, meaning any leave isn't kept track of)..... And hey, while you are at it, maybe it's time the county start saving money by getting those eligible for retirement out the door since most of them are just collecting a paycheck while refusing to learn anything new..........