Some Oklahoma County Jails Facing Financial Crisis
MAYES COUNTY, Oklahoma - Many county jails across the state are facing a crisis after losing money provided by the Department of Corrections.
The DOC used to house inmates at county jails and paid $27 a day for each one and a lot of jails counted on that money to pay their bills; but the DOC removed all its inmates in April, now many counties are scrambling to find money.
When DOC pulled its inmates from the county jails, it affected the budget of every single county in the state.
In Mayes County, it took a half a million dollars out of the budget, which is about half of what it takes to run the jail for a year.
State law says a county must run a jail and must fund it, and now that the state reimbursement is gone, there are only two options left: a property tax or a sales tax.
Mayes County is asking voters to approve a one-eighth cent sales tax to raise about a half a million dollars a year.
Mayes County Sheriff, Mike Reed, thinks that's better than a property tax, because people who travel through the county and buy things, are sharing the load.
"This is not for raises, not more people, this is just to pay our bills,” Reed said.
The sheriff said they are already cutting corners. He dropped what the county pays for an inmate meal from a $1.20 to 82 cents, they are down four jailer positions - and jailers only get paid about $12 an hour - and they use grant money and donations to help pay for repairs.
The sheriff has even dipped into money that was for his department.
Sheriff Reed: "I carried over, on purpose, a $200,000 rainy day fund. Since April, I've been dipping into that rainy day fund at $37,000 a month to fund the jail and that rainy day fund will be gone shortly."
He said no one in Mayes County created the situation, but the citizens are the ones who must pay for it. He said DOC did this by removing its inmates.
"They put us in this position. We lost a half million dollars. All we're trying to do is recover what we lost,” Reed said.
So what does it mean for your pocketbook?
If you buy an $8 cheeseburger in Mayes County after the vote passes, one penny of that will go to the jail.
Even though the election is Tuesday, there is early voting on Thursday and Friday.