Claremore Daily Progress

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June 13, 2013

County jail trust fund short $96K

CLAREMORE —

The Rogers County Criminal Justice Authority met Tuesday to determine how to resolve a $96,000 shortfall in funding.
The trust members voted unanimously to request the funds from the Rogers County Commissioners. The funds will be repaid by the trust after the new fiscal year begins in July.
Legal counsel for the trust has yet to determine if “borrowing” or otherwise committing money from next fiscal year to repay the commissioners is permissible by law. 
Rogers County Assistant District Attorney David Iski did not advise the authority, but said, “he did not believe it would be an issue because the funds had already been collected.”
The trust is seeking legal advise from their attorney James C. Orbison, who was not present at the meeting.
Orbison issued a legal opinion June 3 at the request of Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm, stating the responsibility of the county to provide funding for the trust authority.
“Rogers County must make it a priority to fund the operation and maintenance of the Rogers County Jail,” Orbison said in his legal opinion.
The issue started about a year ago when the fund was approximately $150,000 short and the board voted to require the commissioners to provide the funds.
Trust documents require any shortfall in funds to be paid by the board of county commissioners, according to Helm.
“We had a year to make it up,” Helm said.
Helm was referring to jail administrations ability to make up the shortfall by cutting expenses.
“We were told constantly that there were cuts that were being made,” Commissioner Kirt Thacker said.
Jail administration successfully cut the shortfall by approximately $60,000 this year, lowering but not overcoming the deficit.
By increasing the intake of Department of Correction inmates to 50, the trust earned approximately $500,000 in 2012, combined with other cost-saving measures, the shortfall was decreased.

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