Rita James introduced guest speaker Sheriff Cranford Jordan, speaker for the March 29th Kiwanis club meeting. Sheriff Jordan said he has been in office for 10 years and that the office was broke when he took over. He gave us a handout showing the financials for the last ten years beginning with a negative balance in 2012. There was also at that time the need for a new jail. The one above the courtroom and offices in the Courthouse was causing significant problems for the offices beneath and was a drain on the budget. The state law states that the police jury provides the jail and the sheriff operates the jail. Sheriff Jordan borrowed a 40 year $7.5 million loan from the USDA. The new detention center began operation in 2018 and the loan was paid off in less than 3 years. The monthly note was $30,000. The sheriff’s office funding comes from property tax and a one-half cent sales tax voted by the citizens. Each provides about a million dollars per year. Salaries and benefits have increased by 40% and after paying off the loan employees were given a small bonus.
The police jury pays around $459,000 per year to house parish inmates and the state pays around $479,000 per year to house state inmates. The police jury now pays $15/day per parish inmates and the state pays $26.39 to house state inmates. They house around 40 state inmates. In 2020 there were too many inmates due to lack of court proceedings because of Covid. Also the inmates were not allowed to go outside the jail on work details due to Covid. Now however, they are back on the police jury’s road crew, they are picking up trash on the roads, they cleaned up at Gum Springs, and cleaned up the ball fields at the Recreation Center to be ready for Dixie Youth opening day.
A question was asked about new vehicles. The women in the sheriff’s office had found $1.1 million in grants that were used to buy 15 Tahoes. This was done while Sheriff Jordan was recovering from Covid.
Another question was asked about the ICE facility. Since ICE is using the facility for illegal immigrants the facility is making $800,000 to $900,000 per year. There are 170 employees with a starting salary of $18.49 per hours. Number of illegal immigrants has been declining recently with between 300-400 at present time. ICE did an audit a few weeks back and the facility received a clean audit.