“It’s not if something happens, it’s when something happens,” he said.
Member Joe Sizemore, Metamora, was concerned new jail standards will “force the taxpayers to pay more.” Whipker agreed, “It’s an unfunded mandate… it’s a requirement. There’s going to be an expectation that certain things happen ... doing nothing is unacceptable,” he emphasized. The inspector said a percentage of economic development or option income taxes could be set aside to fund jail operations.
The medical services category of the jail budget could double from $66,000 allotted in 2013 to a recommended $125,000 in 2014, including a medical technician who would be paid $34,091. Whipker urged that a nurse evaluate all new inmates on a daily basis. Murphy divulged that now “we have a doctor who comes in once a week.”
One council member asked if a county nurse could check inmates’ health. According to Whipker, “An hour a day ... is better than nothing.” Jail staff shouldn’t assess medical conditions, he noted. “You want that left to professionals.”
Murphy said the two county nurses are supervised by the county health officer, Dr. Michael Fain. The two discussed having one nurse work as needed at the security center, but Fain doesn’t have the right kind of malpractice insurance for that task.
Member Aaron Leffingwell, Brookville, asked if the current jail health provider has a nurse who could check out inmates’ health issues and the answer was yes.
The sheriff’s budget, which includes 11 jailers’ salaries, is projected at $1.135 million, up 66 percent from $681,823. If approved, a chief jailer at $34,091 would be a new position. Whipker said, “I’m a firm believer jail employees must be paid well. The sheriff has a constitutional obligation … to insure the safety and security of people to confined to a jail. You want highly trained, professional people working in the facility.” He advised the council to offer enough pay “so they want to work in the jail, not use it as a stepping-stone.”