Furloughs may save the state money but could cost locally


by WHAS11 editors


Posted on August 6, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 6 at 8:15 PM

LOUSIVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's a first in the history of Kentucky, a furlough day for all court employees in an effort to reduce a $25.2 million dollar budget shortfall. 

But is the cost-saving measure taking its toll in other areas?

Traffic in and out of the hall of justice is much slower today with no court proceedings, clerk's office services, or even driver licensing taking place. But First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Harry Rothgerber says this isn't a big deal for his office.

“It’s very seldom trials start on Monday-- mostly motion hour, arraignments and pre-trial matters anyway”, commented Rothberger.

However arraignments and pre-trial matters make a big difference for at least one local agency.  Over the last two days Metro Corrections has seen a steady stream of people getting arrested and booked into jail. However they also typically see about 20 percent of those people let go, but that didn’t happen today.

Jail arraignment court, is usually filled with inmates but like all other state courts it is closed today. However no jail arraignments Monday and with the holdovers from Sunday has left corrections with an overflow of about 50 inmates. 

“We have to feed them we have to provide for their medical care we have to provide for their uniforms”, says Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton.

That cost about $68 a day per inmate.  Plus these extra bodies may push an already crowded jail past capacity, potentially requiring Metro Corrections to use the third floor of the police department for jail space.

That may lead to as many as 14 officers working overtime, costing corrections about $3,500. Along with the costs per inmate, this furlough day may save the state money, but could cost Metro Corrections nearly $7,000.  That money is not in the Metro Corrections’ budget.

Two more furlough days are scheduled for Sept. 4 and Oct. 15.  The Sept. 4 furlough will come after Labor Day weekend, meaning three days of no jail court.