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|OCC deficit grows to $800,000|
The Ouachita Correctional Center's budget deficit is a little more than expected due to some extra expenses in the past fiscal year.
Ouachita Parish Police Jury treasurer Brad Cammack told police jurors Tuesday there were a "variety of items" that went over budget in the 2008 fiscal year. One of those expenses was overtime pay for deputies who are assigned to work at OCC.
Cammack made his remarks at the police jury's regular meeting.
"Going into 2009, we are still paying some 2008 payables, and unfortunately, it looks like for 2008 (fiscal year), OCC will be even more negative than what we anticipated," Cammack said. "There was going to be a $700,000 deficit (in OCC's fund balance), but we're looking at closer to an $800,000 deficit."
When the police jury approved its $85 million budget for the 2009 fiscal year, OCC faced a $1.2 million deficit for the new fiscal year, which began Jan. 1.
Jurors were told the budget deficit at OCC could be managed during the 2009 fiscal year by using OCC's cash reserves to meet expenses. However, police jurors were warned that a long-term solution must be found because OCC cannot sustain a deficit for more than a year.
Police jurors agreed in December to find a long-term solution. Some said 2010 would be a "critical" year for OCC.
Cammack said OCC has about $200,000 more in revenue than was originally budgeted for the 2008 fiscal year. However, he said, "even though we were more over on revenue, we were more over on expenses, so going into 2009."
"It's going to be a little worse off than what we anticipated," he added.
One issue that is causing budgetary problems at OCC is overcrowding, particularly the number of pre-trial detainees at the jail. About 60 percent of inmates at OCC are awaiting trial. The state does not pay OCC to house pre-trial detainees like it does to house state prisoners, or Department of Corrections prisoners.
The police jury receives $2.5 million annually to house almost 300 DOC inmates at the parish prison.
Police jurors say if OCC could reduce the number of pretrial detainees and pick up additional DOC prisoners, OCC's finances would improve.
The Legislature last year created two new judgeships in the 4th Judicial District Court. Parish officials are hopeful the two new judges will help move the pre-trial detainees through the court system more quickly.
Almost 1,000 inmates are incarcerated at OCC, but several police jurors say that number needs to be reduced to around 800.