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Thursday, December 18, 2014
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County jail work ahead of schedule

Monday, August 18, 2014 - Updated: 10:31 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com

FONDA -- A three-year infrastructure improvement project at the Montgomery County Jail is ahead of schedule due to increased revenues generated by the sheriff's office.

The county Public Safety Committee passed a resolution on to the full Legislature Tuesday to amend the 2014 budget, to appropriate $165,821 toward the next round of improvements proposed by Sheriff Michael Amato, which were originally scheduled for next year.

Amato said the first phase of the improvement project has already been completed and due to the success of housing federal inmates, the department has generated enough revenue to move on to the next phase.

"We are still doing very well generating funds from the boarding and that is why I went back and asked for more money from the Legislature," Amato said.

The new funding will help continue upgrades to the department's camera system, which Amato told the committee is obsolete.

"We have a camera system from 1997 that is falling apart and we have cameras that are down. This is a security issue for us," he said.

The department uses an analog system which will be switched over to digital. In addition to replacing the broken cameras, Amato said, the goal is to add cameras where there are none now, including the radio tower outside.

Amato said when there is maintenance being done on the roof, only the officers on duty at the time know about it. When there is a change in the shift, it causes a problem because the new officers on duty don't know what is going on.

"If we had cameras up there, they can just look back at the video," Amato said. "We want to enhance what we have now."

This is the second allotment of funds Amato has requested from the Legislature after requesting $165,821 in April. The amount borrowed would total $331,642 if the full body approves the funds at the Aug. 26 meeting.

The first phase of the project included the purchase of a new vehicle and portable radios, the installation of a new phone system and card swipe system, reconstruction of central control, and the replacement of the jail seating with more secure seating.

Amato anticipates replacing the funds with the additional revenues being generated by housing inmates. He originally budgeted $700,000 for the year but as of last month reported the department has exceeded that amount.

"We are easily $20,000 over that," he said, adding that the jail averages $90,000 a month from boarding federal inmates.

"I anticipate at the rate I am going, come October, I should be able to cover both allotments of money," he said. "The rest of the year will be profits."

District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz asked if the revenues could suddenly decrease.

"Can you go down to $60,000 from $90,000?" he asked.

Amato said it could decrease depending if there is a sudden drop in inmates.

"We are making phone calls and pulling people in and it seems to be working," he said.

     

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