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Shouldn't one jail be cheaper than two?

Editor: According to statistics, the Citrus County jail is the sixth-most-costly county-run jail in the 67 counties of the state of Florida. This despite the fact our jail is almost brand new.

Most of the more costly county jails are larger than our jail. Hillsborough County is a good example. Often large counties pay higher wages or are jails that are old and thus costly to run.

Factoring all of these things together, our jail may in fact be the most costly in Florida.

Before the new jail was built, the cost per day per inmate was between $55 and $60. At that time the operator of the jail claimed the price per day was high because we were operating two separate facilities: the jail in downtown Inverness and the jailatorium. Why, then, is the cost to run the new facility costing us about $75 per day per inmate?

Let me quote a few quick statistics that might interest you. The sheriff's budget for fiscal year 1991-92 was $3,852,123. This budget covered the cost to operatethe old jail and the jailatorium. Thenew jail had not been built.

The sheriff's budget for fiscal year 1992-93 was $4,584,585. This was to include the first year of operation of the new county jail in Lecanto. If you subtract the amount from the budget for the final year of operations of the old jail you have an increase to operate the first year of the new jail of $732,462. This is a cost increase in one year of about 19 percent.

Every succeeding budget has been in excess of $4.5-million. The sheriff's budget request for this fiscal year for the operation of the jail is a whopping $4.7-million.

All those in the decision-making process, including the sheriff, need to realize for the sake of the taxpayers of Citrus County that the jail needs to be run by a private company that can reduce the cost so the county can utilize the savings to take care of other expenses.

Carmine Petrangelo

Inverness

President, Citrus County

Taxpayers Association

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