The Central Virginia Regional Jail

Next month, the Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ) Authority will vote on its $16.7 million proposed budget.

The budget, which is approximately $784,000, or nearly 5 percent higher than the current $15.9 million budget, requests approximately $8.8 million from the five counties it serves (Orange, Madison, Greene, Louisa and Fluvanna). Originally, superintendent Frank Dyer suggested keeping the total local share level at $8.4 million, using approximately $2.1 million from reserves to cover the rest. However, authority members opted to increase the collective contribution by $400,000 with the idea that, according to authority member Troy Wade, the pain could be spread out versus having the localities get hit with a large increase next year.

“We know [the local share] is going to go up because we’re spending money and not replacing it,” Wade said. “I’m in favor of increasing a little every year [and] hopefully eventually it’s to where localities are paying for it with organic growth. I’m of the opinion we start spreading out the burden now, even if it’s just a little bit. If we keep spending $2 million a year [from reserves], we’ll run out in three and that’s pushing it.”

Each locality’s individual share of the collective contribution is based on its average inmate population over a three-year period. This doesn’t equal individual prisoners, but rather inmate days. For fiscal year 2021 which is factored using inmate days in fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019, Louisa, with an average jail population of 35,204 days, covers 30.74 percent of the collective locality contribution. Orange trails behind with 30,143 days, 26.32 percent. Next is Greene with 19,896 days has 17.37 percent of the contribution. Fluvanna has 16,700 days with 14.58 percent and Madison trails with 12,592, 10.99 percent.

Of the proposed approximately $8.8 million collective contribution, Louisa would cover approximately $2.7 million, nearly $49,000 less than the current year; Orange approximately $2.3 million, $69,000 more than the current year; Greene approximately $1.5 million, $204,000 more than the current year; Fluvanna approximately $1.3 million, $44,000 more than the current year and Madison approximately $970,000, nearly $132,000 more than the current year.

In addition to the approximately $8.8 million in local funding and approximately $1.7 million from reserves, the budget is balanced using approximately $5.2 million in state funding, an increase of approximately $42,000 and approximately $400,000 in jail sources which is comprised of work release revenue and refunds. The budget also makes use of $600,000 in federal revenue, money the jail receives from housing federal prisoners. At one point, the jail had stopped receiving federal prisoners and thus didn’t budget federal revenue. However, that has since fiscal year 2019 due to a verbal agreement with the current head marshal. Dyer said if that leadership position were to change hands, the agreement could change. The only firm contract the jail has with the feds is the amount it receives per federal prisoner per day which is set at $50. For this reason $600,000 is budgeted, but any overage is added to the fund balance. Currently, the jail has already exceeded the budgeted $600,000 for the current year.

Among the expenses in the budget is a 2 percent salary increase for employees, an estimated 10 percent increase in health insurance rates and a less than 2 percent increase in VRS rates. Approximately $188,000 has been budgeted in IT costs, an increase over the current year of approximately $99,000 mainly due to needed equipment replacements. Approximately $800,000 is set aside for inmate medical costs and is allocated to each locality based on the same formula used to split up the total local contribution. Should a locality exceed its allocation, that county will likely receive a bill for the difference. Authority members discussed covering any overages using reserve funds, but ultimately decided to revisit the issue when a locality exceeds its allocation.

The food services budget increased by approximately $216,000 to $985,000, mainly due to costs associated with maintaining special diets like Kosher and diabetic meals. With the completion of the recent plumbing project, there are no major capital items included in the proposed budget. Capital outlay expenditures total just $294,400 which primarily consists of equipment replacements including a $65,000 generator, $50,000 for HVAC, $32,000 in hot water heaters, $10,000 for a washing machine and dryer, $12,000 for an ice machine and $10,000 for a walk behind mower and zero turn mower. Also included is $5,500 for the replacement of a roof top exhaust fan, $15,000 in radios and $70,000 in vehicles.

The authority is expected to vote on the proposed budget during its March meeting. The budget will be presented to county administrators later this month.

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