By Wayne Gates –
Some county offices in Brown County may be moving this year.
The Brown County Criminal Justice Task Force is examining whether county assets are being used to the greatest advantage.
“We have to do an inventory of all the land and facilities that the county owns to determine if we are using them efficiently,” said task force chairman Paul Hall.
The review will be led by task force members Bruce Wallace, Greg Lang and Tony Applegate. Hall said that the task force will use the information gathered to make a plan to recommend to the Brown County Commissioners. It is expected to be completed within 30-60 days.
“We are going back to square one and looking at square footage and asking whether some offices need more or less. We want to be thinking out of the box,” said Hall.
Two of the main priorities discussed by the task force during a January 10 meeting were expanding the jail and finding more room for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.
Hall said that once a discussion begins about finding more room for one office, other dominos begin to fall.
“For example, putting the prosecutors office on the (administrative) campus with the sheriff’s office makes sense. But once you start with moving one, you have to look at the whole picture. I think everything should be on the table,” Hall said.
“Before we make a decision on the jail, we have to do this. If we can save a million dollars by reshuffling offices, I think we have to do that on behalf of the Brown County taxpayers.”
Hall said that one way the county could save money is by moving offices that offer state services into buildings that are not paid for.
“We are still paying on the building that prosecutor and probate/municipal judge are in. If we put a state entity in there, we can actually bill the state and recoup part of that payment,” Hall said.
He added that federal funds are also available under the same scenario.
Hall said that the task force feels a sense of urgency because the county is continuing to bleed money to house inmates out of the county.
“We have to move forward. We’ve still got 20-30 prisoners that we are paying $70 dollars a day to house in Butler County. We’ve got to make a change.”
Hall said that the decision to expand the jail has already been made by current criminal justice realities in the county.
The only questions that remain are what to build, where to build it and how much to spend.