Inmate accused of stabbing deputy in neck with pen
South Jersey jail merger: Gloucester County sends layoff plan to state; court hearing postponed
N.J. lawmakers, union leaders protest changes to civil service system
Modest bail amounts still too much for some N.J. inmates, study shows
Spike in aging prison inmates creates tax turmoil in N.J
Killing of Colorado prison chief stirs worry over danger of corrections' jobs
‘Jailhouse blues’ no more? http://unionnewsdaily.com/news/county/jailhouse-blues-no-more?
Feds raid offices at Hudson jail and seize records, hard drives:
copy and paste the following link, htt://bitly.com/11gk2x
Jail closing: Hundreds protest as gloucester, Cumberland freeholders OK plan Salem discusses http://bitly.com/YsQnWv
on March 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM, updated March 10, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Freeholders in Gloucester and Cumberland counties plan to approve a shared services agreement this week that could phase out the Gloucester County Jail and send inmates to Cumberland facilities in Bridgeton.
The decision comes on the heels of Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert Damminger’s reorganization meeting challenge to the board to find ways to reduce spending and increase budgetary savings.
The result could prove lucrative for both counties, saving nearly a quarter-billion dollars for Gloucester and helping reduce Cumberland’s budget deficit, according to officials.
“We are proposing to do a shared service agreement with Cumberland County to get out of the jail business,” Damminger said.
The net result could save Gloucester County $2 million this year, about $8.6 million next year, and more than $10 million in savings every year after that, according to Damminger.
“We’re looking at possibly doing a 25-year contract with this that, over the life of the contract, could save the residents of Gloucester County a quarter of a billion dollars,” Damminger said. “In this economy, it’s a significant amount of money.”
Cumberland County is expected to net approximately $2.5 million per 100 inmates, according to Cumberland Freeholder Director William Whelan.
“We are confident that we can provide this service without stressing our system,” Whelan said.
The Cumberland County Jail, in fact, is experiencing vacancies and empty cells, which Cumberland County Department of Corrections Warden Bob Balicki said works well with the shared-service agreement.
“The capacity of our jail is 550 inmates and there are 396 as of last Friday,” Balicki said. “The count has been low for a few years now. We’re keeping that number down, but instead of leaving the space empty, [the counties] both make out. It makes sense to use the empty cells.”
Though Cumberland County cannot immediately house all male Gloucester County inmates — the contract is only for males, as women and juvenile shared contracts were established in 2009 and 2010 — they expect to be able to house all inmates in the long term.
“It will be transitioned over the latter part of spring. In the short term they cannot absorb all of our inmates,” said Chad Bruner, Gloucester County administrator. “In the long term, we will have no housing component to our jail.”
Nearly 270 inmates are housed in Gloucester County Jail today, Bruner said.
“It will be a regional corrections department,” he said
Looking at jobs, the Gloucester County corrections system currently employs 120 uniformed correction officers and 37 additional workers — including janitors, nurses and cooks. That staff will be scaled back significantly, with the county only keeping 33 uniformed officers.
“There could be layoffs, but we’re trying to minimize that impact,” Damminger said. “We’re not naïve. We’re staying conservative in this planning process on how many employees other entities will take. So, we’re going on a worst-case-scenario.”
Damminger said if the amount of employees Cumberland takes is less than expected, the displaced employees will be added to the top of the Civil Service list for eligibility in other jobs.
If one of the 33 employees that were kept decides to leave, an employee laid off due to the merger will get seniority in applying for the position, he added.
Damminger said the 33 uniformed employees will be used to transport inmates.
Balicki was pleased to hear of the opportunity to take on the Gloucester employees, as he served formerly as a director in the Gloucester County Department of Corrections.
“They’re already trained,” Balicki said. “They wouldn’t have to go through the academy. There would be no costs. It costs about $1,800 for each new person you hire, and you don’t know if they’ll make it or not. Transferring employees would be great.”
Balicki added: “It makes great business sense. We’re glad to help with the deficit. Cumberland needs the money.”
Gloucester County entered into shared services agreements with Camden County in 2009 to regionalize the juvenile detention program. The merge reportedly saved $1.8 million annually for the county and provided better facilities for incarcerated juveniles, according to Joe Chila, deputy director of the Gloucester County freeholders.
The following year, Gloucester County began sharing services with Salem, Camden and Cumberland counties to house female inmates. The move also reportedly saved Gloucester County $1.8 million annually.
Gloucester and Cumberland freeholders will vote on the agreement Wednesday, March 13. If approved, the merge will begin on July 1.
Union County Freeholders discuss State Health Benefits
Copy and paste the following link http://vimeo.com/60291393
NJ.COM Feb 10th 2013
Despite a continued slump in real estate values, Union County "appears to have stemmed the tide of eroding revenue collections," according to county Manager Alfred Faella whose executive budget was released last week.
With pension and benefit costs projected to take a smaller slice of the county’s budget pie and negotiations with 19 of 22 county employees’ bargaining units under way, Faella and other officials are sounding cautiously optimistic notes.
"We are now at the beginning of a second-year of what is a multi-year budgetary turnaround," Faella wrote in a letter to freeholders that accompanied the budget
Although the preliminary $506.4 million spending plan closes a $28 million deficit, Faella says new revenue sources are "desperately needed."
Perhaps just as significantly, outlays are also getting a close look, with the freeholders and county administrators taking a hard look at the feasibility of selling the Runnells Specialized Hospital in Berkeley Heights and of the county’s golf operations.
Despite privatization of dietary and housekeeping services at Runnells in 2012, the facility cost the county close to $20 million in subsidies last year, mostly due to cuts in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.
"The reimbursement rates continue to go down and that’s not going to change," Freeholder Daniel Sullivan said. "We can’t continue to operate when the government pays us less and less. Hard decisions have to be made," perhaps this year.
On Thursday night, the freeholders heard from a Pennsylvania-based consultant, who said state and federal reimbursements for hospital care would likely fall at least an additional 10 percent in the near future. He said the county could lease or sell the hospital to generate several million in revenue.
Trimming costs at the county jail, which costs $50 million a year to operate, is also a priority, Faella said. On the revenue side, Human Services Director Frank Guzzo said the county is hoping to lease at least a portion of the former juvenile detention center in Elizabeth. The facility has been renovated and has received inquiries from two federal agencies, he said.
Based on typical federal contracts, the hall, filled to 130-prisoner capacity year-around, could bring in several million dollars to the county.
The preliminary spending plan is about 3.4 percent higher than last year’s. The proportion of the budget financed by county taxes, however, climbs about 4 percent, to $321.7 million, or 63.5 percent of total revenue. Accordingly, the average tax bill would climb by about $120.
Sullivan and county Finance Director Bibi Taylor said administrators and freeholders will be diligent in trying to lessen residents’ tax bill as budget hearings get under way and before a final spending plan is approved this spring.
"This is a starting point," Taylor said.
Taylor also said the county would try to recoup about $3.5 million from FEMA for damage and other costs attributable to Hurricane Sandy. Taylor, though, also noted that routine maintenance, such as paving and road repair, did not take place because of the storm.