Supes keep tight budget ahead of grand jury investigation - - The News for South Mississippi

Supes keep tight budget ahead of grand jury investigation

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HINDS COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

When Hinds County supervisors discuss a large financial decision, the detention center and the unknown cost of repairs is almost certain to follow.

"We don't know exactly what will be required of us, and we have to be as frugal and cost conscious as we can be. We therefore have to look at everything that costs us money, so that we'll have a little room to do some things," said Interim District 4 Supervisor Robert Walker.

"It puts you in a position that you don't have a blank check but you've got to find some money in a hurry to make sure that the jail situation is rectified," said District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes.

Some supervisors say the jail in Raymond isn't the only crucial decision the county faces.

In an effort to save money, the board is looking at contracts. The county has more than 200. Supervisors want to reduce that amount by 18 percent.

"In some cases we pay a little bit too much to some vendors or groups, and other cases there may be things that our staff can do," explained Walker.

Stokes' plan to help the needy and elderly recovering from the March hail storm was put on hold out of concern the funds he found may be needed elsewhere.

"We've got to help these people. All your money is going to the jail. So, you reward people for being bad and you punish people for being good? I don't think that's the right formula," Stokes said.

Repairs to the pod that was destroyed by rioting inmates at the detention center are expected to be complete Oct. 4.

However, the results of a grand jury investigation at the jail could reveal a new financial headache.

"What we are gonna have [Tuesday] is a reality check. We're gonna know exactly what must happen at that jail. I would hope that the board would think outside the box. If we cannot afford to have as many pods and jails in Hinds County, then we just can't afford it," Stokes said.

An emergency meeting will be held Tuesday morning to discuss the grand jury's investigation into the conditions at the Hinds County Detention Center. Supervisors hope the findings will be a starting point to see how much repairs at the jail will cost.

The budget supervisors approved for the new fiscal year has $2 million in reserves but most on the board believe that money is already accounted for.

"We have to be transparent, and finances happens to be a very critical area. So, we just have to make sure we look at everything, under ever rock, under every leaf," Walker said.

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