Jail sees budget decline

Operating expenses for the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities in fiscal year 2013-14 are expected to be down, which means there will be no increase in the share of costs paid by the four owner counties.

The $9.9 million budget for the upcoming year has dropped from $10.2 million in 2012-13 due largely to the resolution of eight past lawsuits and a decline in worker compensation claims.

“We’ve been trying very hard to control some of our losses and get problems from the past resolved and this is the payoff,” said Jim Weed, executive director.

On Thursday, June 20, the NORCOR board of directors adopted the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1. The body of representatives from Wasco, Hood River, Sherman and Gilliam counties convenes in the conference room of the juvenile facility at 211 Webber St. in The Dalles.

The jail books 3,500 to 4,000 adults each year and Weed is constantly looking for ways to scale back costs. He said federal agencies pay about $150,000 per year to rent bed space, a figure that is down dramatically from several years ago and drives his search for efficiencies.

Although the jail was built to provide 150 beds, Weed said the number of inmates on the adult side is capped at 100 due to staffing cutbacks. There can also be up to 50 juveniles incarcerated or participating in a state-run rehabilitation program.

Despite a series of cutbacks in operational costs, he said corrections staff have received a 3 percent cost of living adjustment in their current three-year contract, which expires June 30. He said management has proposed a 1 percent raise for 2013-14 but is still in negotiations with the union representing deputies. Non-union workers — administrators and support staff — receive the same amount given to union employees.

Weed said at least an 11 percent increase in personnel insurance and benefits is expected in the upcoming year.

He said the political environment at the board level has also stabilized with a new funding formula that resulted from last year’s mediation process.

Hood River objected to paying for more beds than it was using on a daily basis, but Wasco objected to changing the original funding mechanism that had been agreed upon by all of the involved counties.

Paul Crowley, presiding judge for the Seventh Judicial District, stepped in to mediate that point of contention and a compromise funding plan was agreed upon. Hood River is now paying 30.2 percent of the counties’ share of the budget, with Wasco responsible for 58.6 percent, Sherman for 5.4 and Gilliam for 5.9.

The jail was built by a bond levy approved by each county of $13 million that will be paid off on Sept. 15, 2016. Weed has budgeted $2.4 million for debt service payments in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Things are going well at NORCOR, I think,” he said. “It’s not perfect yet and some of the employees think I’m too tight but it is what it is.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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