Published 3:57 pm Thursday, July 30, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman says that COVID-19 is driving up overtime at the county jail.

Turman said multiple staff members have tested positive over the last few months for COVID-19, and it’s forcing other correctional officers to work more than expected. 

“It’s just a tough situation,” he said. 

So far this year, the jail has spent $69,623.28 on overtime at the Covington County Jail.

Only $10,000 was budgeted for that. 

“We have to have the jail staffed,” he said. “COVID-19 has really hurt us in terms of overtime.” 

Another factor, Turman said is that he has an inmate who has been hospitalized for several weeks. 

Since the person hospitalized is an inmate in the county jail, that person must receive supervision around the clock, which is also driving up overtime, he said. 

Turman said this isn’t the first inmate who has needed care at the hospital. 

He explained that for each inmate hospitalized, he is required to continuously staff the rooms with a correctional officer.

With two months left in the budget year, the jail is at 596 percent of the overtime budget for the entire budget year.

Another expense at the jail that Turman said was absolutely necessary was a new camera security system that cost taxpayers more than $58,000.

Turman said it was necessary for the safety in the jail. 

The county commission budgeted $500 in the maintenance of computer equipment category, which makes the percentage of budget 11,730 percent of budgeted expenditures for that line item. 

Overall, the jail has expended $1.715 million year-to-date and has budgeted $1.976 million through Sept. 30, 2020. 

That means Turman and the jail operation have only 11 percent of its budget left to spend to stay within the budgeted numbers, and with COVID-19 still wreaking havoc, it’s not likely that that will happen. 

County Commission Chairman Greg White agreed with Turman on the overtime being a driving force behind where the jail sits in terms of year-to-date versus budget.

“The jail would be below budget for the 10-month mark, without COVID-19 and the new security system,” White said. 

White said the old system was replaced in 2011-2012.