Saturday, September 06, 2014

Empire Building in Herkimer County?

Herkimer County has been looking into building a new jail since 2006 when the State's Commission of Corrections placed a limit on the existing jail's capacity.  A site was picked but the Village of Herkimer did not like it and denied a sewer connection.  Rather than look for an alternative site or consider an alternative arrangement, the County fought back with a lawsuit that has been going on for years.

Per TWC News: Lawsuit Continues to Stall New Herkimer County Jail
 "The Commission of Corrections in 2006 told us we were going to have to cut our maximum facility capacity to four inmates, per day,” said Herkimer County Sheriff, Christopher Farber. 
Today, most inmates are boarded elsewhere including Oneida, Otsego, Montgomery, Fulton and Rensselaer Counties. . . . 
Sheriff Farber says it is their duty to run a correctional facility in the county and says they won't know the real costs until it opens. [emphasis added]
Duty? A county legislator, Mr. Korce, apparently does not think so and wants to look into a cooperative effort with Oneida County.

 . . . And why not? Herkimer County has roughly the same population as the City of Utica.  It has been generations since Utica got rid of its jail on Bleecker Street in favor of sending inmates to the Oneida County Correctional Facility.  Cooperating with Oneida County would seem to give Herkimer County taxpayers not only the cost effectiveness of a larger facility, but the expertise of the O. C. managing staff.  
In the meantime, the expenses are adding up. Korce says the price of architects and lawyers has already totaled more than a million dollars.
The lawsuit, which is still churning along, does not put bricks on the ground, house inmates, avoid the costs and hassles of locating and boarding inmates elsewhere, or bring Herkimer County into compliance with the State's directives.

It seems that some Herkimer County officials appear more interested in empire building than in doing what is best for the taxpayers.  


Greens and Beans said...

I agree that Herkimer County would do well to rethink the entire notion of building and maintaining a colossal new Correctional facility. If Oneida County is willing to enter into a long term contract with Herkimer County to provide Correctional Services, Herkimer County could budget appropriately and calculate the cost comparison. The cost of new construction change orders and overages, bonding debt service, in conjunction with the additional operations and maintenance costs could break the budget to become very expensive. Moreover, eliminating the problems of dealing with prisoner lawsuits, visitor issues, and the seemingly nonstop minutia of jailhouse lawyer headaches (that Oneida County already has a good handle on) should make this decision much easier. With all of the highway construction already in progress in the Eastern portion of Oneida County, the cost and efficiency of transporting their inmates to the Oneida County Correctional facility will prove to be negligible.

Anonymous said...

Look, we're talking about Herkimer County here, where the highlight of most residents week is a trip to the local McDonald's.
Herkimer County- where most political leaders aren't exactly candidates for Mensa & are about as clueless as the day is long.

Strikeslip said...

Herkimer County ... Smart enough to keep their sales tax a half percent below Oneida County's.