Commissioners discuss water issues at Burnet County Jail

Burnet County Commissioners Court

Burnet County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr. looks over documents during the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting October 22. The commissioners discussed a number of items, including security cameras for a justice of the peace office and a water management system for the Burnet County Jail. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON

Burnet County could be facing fairly large expenditures regarding its jail.

During the Commissioners Court’s regular meeting October 22, County Judge James Oakley opened a discussion on the idea of purchasing a water management system for the jail. He pointed out that, as it is currently, inmates can basically use an unlimited amount of water in their cells.

“What we’re looking at is a system that will allow (jailers) to regulate and limit some of the water uses within the jail,” he said.

The lack of a water management system could be considered a design flaw in the original construction since most similar facilities come with one.

The system’s price tag is approximately $165,000. Oakley called it an investment that would eventually save the county on water costs associated with the jail.

However, before the judge got his fellow commissioners’ thoughts on the water management system, he brought up another issue facing the jail: shower pans.

Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Matt Kimbler, who oversees the county jail, told commissioners about a design flaw in the showers when the facility was built. Along the bottom of the shower, where the baseboard comes up along the wall, water has caused some of these areas to separate.

Sheriff Calvin Boyd said that, during the last inspection, state jail standards officials dinged the county facility for the issue.

“It is a compliance issue,” he told commissioners.

Kimbler said getting the issue fixed would cost $150,000 to $190,000 for all 88 showers, depending on how many are completed at a time.

Oakley pointed out that when the county purchased the jail in 2015, officials set aside about $750,000 in a fund to help cover any problems. Over the years, the county has used the fund for the facility. The jail reserve fund now has about $400,000 in it. If the county funds both the water management system and shower stall repairs, it would almost drain the reserves. On top of those two needs, the jail has to replace eight industrial-size washers and dryers, which will cost approximately $90,000.

When he first brought up the idea of a computer-based water management system, Oakley said there was the issue of funding it. The jail fund was one possibility, but Oakley pointed out there’s no money going back into the fund as money comes out.

With the shower pan issue, the county is looking at a double whammy.

In the end, the court took no action on either matter during the meeting but will continue to look at how to pay for shower pan repairs and, if possible, add the water management system.

In other business, the Commissioners Court:

  • approved the allocation of $2,871.24 from the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace technology fund for four security cameras around the JP’s office;
  • approved the reclassification of the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office victim liaison position to a higher pay grade;
  • accepted a $13,982.51 grant from the Office of the Governor’s Homeland Security Grants Division to purchase clothing and equipment for the Burnet County Community Emergency Response Team;
  • and accepted a $114,337 grant from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division to fund the BCSO victim liaison position for two more years.

The Burnet County Commissioners Court holds regular meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 9 a.m. at the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce St. in Burnet. Some meetings may be changed due to holidays or other reasons. Changes will be posted on the county website. Agendas are also posted on the website under Public Notices, usually the Friday before the meeting.

The meetings are open to the public.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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