WICHITA, Kansas — The Sedgwick County Commission released the 2016 proposed budget on Monday, which includes about $8 million in cuts.
KSN is still working to learn how those cuts could impact county programs and departments.
For the Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office, the recommended budget will likely include the exclusion of an expansion project to the county jail. That project would cut $5,245,027.
Sedgwick Co. Sheriff Jeff Easter told KSN that came as no surprise, and posed no immediate concern.
“Not having the funding for it right now, I get that,” said Sheriff Easter. “There’s not the money for it and it was not an essential thing anyway.”
However, Sheriff Easter says, if the ‘Day Reporting System’ were eliminated in next year’s budget, it could pose an issue.
The Day Reporting Program helps to control the number of inmates booked into the Sedgwick Co. Jail. The program is just one way for cities in the county to have an alternative to putting people behind bars.
“If the cities decide that they still want to house those individuals in a jail setting, instead of having Day Reporting open to them, then that’s us,” said Sheriff Easter, referring to the burden it could have on the jail.
The jail would likely have to then accommodate for those prisoners, which would increase overcrowding in the jail, Sheriff Easter said.
The reporting program is a significant help in controlling the inmate population. In fact, that is one of the program’s purposes.
“The value of the Day Reporting Service is that under one roof, they provide a range of treatment options to address things like domestic violence and substance abuse,” said Mark Masterson, the director of Sedgwick Co. Department of Corrections. “[These] are evidence-based ways to go about delivering that program.”
Masterson said the program has proven successful since it began in 2006.
“If you look 24 months before somebody was admitted, or before they graduated, and 24 months after they graduated, there’s a 60 percent reduction in the number of bookings to the jail,” said Masterson.
“Judges use options, and providing an option that really reduces the likelihood of future crime and bookings is a positive thing in our community, and they’ve got a track record here of being able to do that,” continued Masterson.
The 2016 recommended budget proposes a trade-off: eliminate the Day Reporting Program, or shift the cost to city budgets, requiring full payment by participating cities as of July 1, 2016.
Doing that would cut $533,883.
The question remains at what cost potentially eliminating the program could have on crime in the county and the burden on the jail.
“Those type of things would fall into our budget, which would exceed the budget that I assume we already have assigned to us,” explained Easter.
Still, Sheriff Easter says he understands the overall budget concerns.
“If the county commission has to shuffle money around and that’s what they see fit, then we’re the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, we’ll make it work.”
The 2016 Budget will be adopted on August 12 during the regular Sedgwick Co. Commission meeting at 9 a.m.
Another meeting will be held August 6th at 6 p.m. at the same place.If you are interested in saying something about the budget cuts, a meeting will be held Wednesday, July 29 at 9 a.m. on the third floor of the Sedgwick County courthouse.