Jail moves into black with Penobscot contract

Posted:  Monday, September 17, 2018 - 2:00pm

The Two Bridges Regional Jail Authority, which started its fiscal year with a deficit, has moved into the black, thanks to a contract with Penobscot County for housing inmates.

The jail was never in debt, because it still faces a chronic employee shortage, so there no cash flow problem. Currently, there are five vacancies and two people in training.

On Sept. 12, the authority unanimously agreed to accept funds for part time staff. Another motion, to provide more funds to current employees, was tabled to give the Finance Committee and Executive Committee a chance to review the options. That motion was approved, 7-4. The dissenting four wanted the funds to go to the employees faster than that.

The authority also agreed to take another look at the solar farm issue tabled last spring when Administrator James Bailey got a favorable electricity rate from the jail’s electricity supplier. That rate has since gone up, and even with more a more efficient air exchange system, the bills have increased. When the authority tabled the measure, it was also changing attorneys. Members voted to have their new attorney look at the proposed agreement with Revision Energy and consider the proposal again.

The jail’s audit has started, and by the next meeting, there should be a draft audit. One section of the jail’s policy on discipline for sexual abuse or harassment needed updating, according to the auditing body. The change passed unanimously.

Building and Grounds Chair Brett Strout said the fire marshal is asking for outdoor sprinklers, and a protest has been lodged on that demand. There is no answer yet from the fire marshal. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is requiring railings around the roof for workers who work on the air exchange system and other systems on the roof. The authority voted to continue research on a railing system, and having Buildings and Grounds send recommendations to the Finance Committee. The panel also voted to replace a sewer pump which is beyond repair, for up to $15,000. One estimate came in at $13,500.

The next regular meeting of the Jail Authority is Nov. 14.