A series of factors has culminated with Two Bridges Jail Authority approving a 2020-21 budget eliminating 15 jobs. The cuts will occur in two phases with the first in mid-July and the second in August. Jail Administrator Col. James Bailey said reductions will hit every department and reduce the staff from 55 to 40.
The authority consisting of Lincoln and Sagadahoc county officials approved a $5.486,891 budget June 17. It cuts spending by $625,690 or 10.2%.
Twelve workers will lose their jobs. One of those workers is taking early retirement. The other three jobs being cut were unfilled.
Col. Bailey is seeking job opportunities for those displaced workers at other county and state jails. Fewer inmates is the leading factor in the budget and staff reductions. Two Bridges is transitioning to holding primarily Lincoln and Sagadahoc county inmates. The board voted to staff a facility with a capped daily average of 75 inmates for the coming fiscal year. The jail still has room to board an average of 20 to 25 inmates from another county at a rate of at least $65 a day, according to a press release.
Recently, the jail has struggled keeping inmate boarding contracts with other counties to house inmates. In the last fiscal year, Bailey cut seven jobs through attrition due to losing a $1 million contract with Waldo County. The jail has also struggled financially with boarding contracts with Penobscot and Oxford counties. On June 17, the authority approved a six-month boarding contract with Oxford County for $280,000.
Bailey said one factor in the cuts was the coronavirus pandemic leading to fewer boarding inmates. The new budget includes a new pay scale incorporating a 2% annual cost of living increase for employees.