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Hernando County sheriff considers taking over jail operations

Published:   |   Updated: May 10, 2013 at 07:16 PM

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After researching the matter, Sheriff Richard Nugent believes he can take over operations of the Hernando County Jail and save the county money.

Due to the current economic condition of the county and the continually rising cost of the county's contract with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to operate the jail, Nugent said Tuesday he has conducted research into the possibility of his office assuming the task.

The sheriff will make a presentation to county commissioners at their meeting next Tuesday.

According to a press release, Nugent met with several sheriff's office jail administrators throughout Florida, showing that his office can provide a better and more efficient service while reducing the County's cost of operating the jail.

Hernando County's contract with CCA includes an automatic increase of 1 percent or the current consumer price index -- whichever is greater - by Oct. 1, 2010.

The CPI currently stands at 2.8 percent.

Nugent said he can operate the jail at the county's current budgeted amount, allowing the county to avoid the contractual increase of almost 3 percent currently in place.

Additionally, the current jail contract does not guarantee a fixed cost for the operation of the jail, as an increase in inmates would increase the cost to the county. With his department operating the jail, an increase in the number of inmates will not increase the cost to the county, he said.

After a flurry of last-minute proposals and counterproposals, county commissioners last September voted 5-0 on a new two-year pact with CCA that continued that 20-year partnership.
The county also won several concessions from the operator, including a reduction in the daily per diem rate from $59.46 to $53, which began Oct. 1.

Jail costs are expected to be about $11.3 million, down from $11.4 million.

During contract talks with CCA, the subject of the sheriff taking over operations at the jail were broached.
The possibility also came up during last year's budget deliberations.

"We wanted to see if there were any other options out there that could save us money," County Commissioner John Druzbick said Tuesday. "There are other counties that are doing it. Now how they are doing it and whether it is saving them money is what we are wanting to know."

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