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Optimizing the budget - Reducing the tax burden of jail operations

1. Question. What will you do to streamline and optimize the budget of your department , what wasteful practices do you want to eliminate.

1. Answer. An immediate budget savings could be found in the Jail. I designed the facility to be able to accommodate both increases and decreases in inmate populations and the appropriate staffing levels to handle both.  I will close down housing units that are not being utilized,reducing the size of the jail to accommodate the current Park County Jail population, and reducing the jail staffing to a level to accommodate lower inmate populations. This action alone would significantly reduce cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Police vehicles is another area where cost could be significantly reduced.Currently, the Sheriff’s Office purchases a wide variety of vehicles. Many of them are SUV’s.  Dodge Durangos, for instance. Citizens will agree our county has some of the toughest driving conditions anywhere! When a new Durango is purchased it has to be upgraded. The Durango has low ground clearance and lift kits need to be added. (Have you noticed how many SO Durangos have damage to their underside?) The skid plate is plastic and has to be upgraded, towing packages are an upgrade. These inflate the overall cost of the vehicle, and increases the time the vehicle is out of service. I proposed getting away from SUV’s and going to pick-ups. There are several that have police packages and are available on State bid programs for thousands less! The basic pickup has greater ground clearance, metal skid plates, and most towing packages are standard-at no extra cost. The vehicles can be placed into service several months earlier.

Sheriff’s Vehicles would all be marked. I’m not a fan of unmarked law enforcement vehicles. This would also increase public awareness that deputies are around. Deputies would be issued new vehicles. Myself, and my command staff who are not in a vehicle eight hours a day, would use the older vehicles.

Under the current administration overtime and retention of deputies is a huge issue. Leadership and good management is missing. This is another area that that I would fix.

2. By: R. SCOTT RAPPOLD - THEGAZETTE  •  June4, 2006  •


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FAIRPLAY- “Overcrowding a problem?” the flier asks. “House your prisoners in our
‘park.’” For $45 a day, the Park County Sheriff’s Office will hold and feed them — and deputies will even come pick them up for free.

That’s the sales pitch Undersheriff Monte Gore makes in his dual role as head of the jail and director of marketing. Fifteen counties, the state prison system and federal government all are customers. It works. Although jails across Colorado struggle to hold their inmates and deal with an increasing backlog from state prisons, the Park County jail this year turned a profit — one of the few in the nation. “We take a no- nonsense approach, a very business-oriented approach,” Gore said in a recent interview at the jail, on a day when just 15 percent of the prisoners were Park County inmates. Some question the approach, and the Sheriff’s Office is defending itself against claims that, in the quest for profits, it cut services to the point an inmate caught an infection from filthy conditions that cost him his leg. “The only reason they’re the only jail in the state to make money is because they don’t provide basic services to the prisoners,” said Colorado Springs lawyer Lloyd Kordick, who represents an illegal immigrant suing the county because he nearly died after being held there in 2003. Gore said it is efficiency, not cutting back, that makes Park County the envy of other sheriffs in the state. “The taxpayers are responsible for operating a jail in this county,” Gore said. “If you’re not offsetting it and running it
like a business, the taxpayers are paying for it.” Five years ago, the jail operation was a shambles. When the Sheriff’s Office took the 150-bed jail over from a private
company in 2000, there were just 12 inmates. Gore, hired that year, saw two options: Use the jail just for Park County inmates, costing taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars a year, or massively overbuild and take inmates from other jails. So the county added 110 beds in February 2005. He also implemented a streamlined, business- oriented approach. Some uniformed positions, such as in the control room and intake area, were switched to civilian jobs, at a savings of $450 per position per month. The

ratio of deputies to inmates per shift is about one to 35. In El Paso County’s jail, it’s one to 30. The location also helps. Starting monthly salary for a deputy is $2,425, while many counties on the Front Range have to pay much more — $3,455 a month at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Also, because Park County is in the center of the
state, it can more easily take inmates from a wide area. Gore also makes sure the jail bids aggressively on every contract. The kitchen alone uses numerous food providers, depending on the best deals. Much of the jail’s equipment comes free from companies that want to test new designs. Classroom seats are free Army surplus. Volume,
though, remains the key factor. Empty beds make no money, and Gore spends much of his day talking to the DOC and other jails to see who needs inmates held. The Colorado Department of Corrections often lacks space for inmates sentenced to state prisons, leaving them in county jails for weeks and months. Last year, the average daily backlog was 721 inmates, up from 393 five years earlier. It pays $48.96 per inmate per day to hold them. The Park County jail took in $2.36 million last year in DOC payments and took another $486,000 from other jails and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We actually generated enough revenue that we paid for the entire operation, for the first time ever,” Gore said. And they made $138,000 in profit, money put into the county’s general fund. “I think it’s done real well,” Park County Commissioner John Tighe said. “For the citizens of Park County, when they don’t have to pay tax money to support the jail, it’s a great thing.” By comparison, it costs about $16.5 million a year to run El Paso County’s jail, which is much bigger but often sends inmates to other facilities, including Park County. Gore said there are other benefits for the community. Eight jobs were created — no small accomplishment in a county with practically no employment base — and minimum-security trusties provide local agencies with about $350,000in free labor, such as cleaning roads and clearing fire hazards. Moises Carranza-Reyes, though, claims there is a downside to Park County’s financial success. An illegal Mexican immigrant, he was arrested while riding in the back of a truck in March 2003 near Rifle and taken by ICE to the Park County jail to await deportation. A lawsuit he filed last year against the Sheriff’s Office describes the jail as a squalid cesspool, where there was no clean laundry for days, inmates were crowded on mattresses on the phlegm- and vomit-encrusted floor, toilets were covered with excrement and the odor was “insufferable.” His lawsuit claims he was healthy when he arrived but within a few days developed a streptococcus infection, which the staff failed to properly treat for four days while his symptoms worsened. He was taken to a hospital in Denver,

where surgeons removed a lung and part of his left leg. He remains in the Denver area. A national civil rights organization, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, has joined
his legal team. Kordick, one of his attorneys, argues that the jail crammed contract inmates into already crowded cells and then cut medical and other services to maximize profits. “The only way you can make money running a jail is if you overcrowd the jail and don’t provide services,” Kordick said. “Jails are not moneymaking businesses, but they wanted to make it that way.” In a deposition for the lawsuit in November, a former Sheriff’s Office employee testified the jail had an “open-ended capacity” when it came to accepting inmates. John Bellantonio, who no longer works at the jail, testified that, on one occasion, he told immigration officials there was no room for a batch of detainees. “We’ve got more than we can handle right now. Don’t bring them,” he told federal officials, according to court records.“And the next day, I was corrected.” “I was told, basically, ‘Make room for them. You know, this is our moneymaker. Make room for them,’” he said during the deposition. “I would ask, ‘What’s the capacity? When do you say, ‘no?’ And I was told, ‘Just make room for them,’ basically.” Gore acknowledged that, before the expansion, inmates sometimes slept on mattresses on the floor. But he said claims that the jail was filthy or disease- ridden are “absolute lies.” “We would not tolerate those kinds of conditions,” he said. The Sheriff’s Office claims Carranza-Reyes had the infection before being taken to the jail and would have died if they hadn’t moved him to the hospital. “We ended up moving him there, and I will tell you from the bottom of my heart we saved his life,” Gore said. He said the other inmates in the ward were all taken to a hospital in Summit County, and, though some had minor illnesses, no other streptococcus infections were found. He said the jail has increased its medical staff from one to two full-time nurses, though a doctor is still contracted part time. County budget figures show the jail’s medical expenses increased from $59,000 in 2002 to $120,000 last year. He claims Carranza-Reyes and the attorneys are trying to cash in. Kordick, though, said Carranza-Reyes is suing because he has lost his ability to make a living, either in the United States or back in Mexico. No trial date has been set. Although Park County’s jail is the most profitable in the state, some worry if it can remain so after the state adds 3,000 private-prison beds and 1,000 beds at Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City within the next few years. “If they build those large facilities and Park County starts losing a lot of the DOC inmates, there goes the money,” said Don Anthony, a former undersheriff challenging Sheriff Fred Wegener
in the August Republican primary. CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-1605 or scott.rappold@gazette.com PRO VS. CON “The only way you can make money running a jail is if you overcrowd the jail and don’t provide services. Jails are not moneymaking businesses, but they wanted to make it that way.” LLOYD KORDICK — local attorney who represents an illegal immigrant suing Park County “The taxpayers are responsible for operating a jail in this county. If you’re not offsetting it and running it like a business, the taxpayers are paying for it.” MONTE GORE — undersheriff who heads the jail and directs marketing


Monte Gore for Sheriff
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