The Nitty Gritty Grunt
Work of Saving County Money
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
February 16, 2006

For most of the seven years I have served as Commissioner, I have heard that there are regularly 300-600 inmates in the Bexar County Jail with serious mental health problems. Many inmates if not a majority of them have a substance abuse problem. That is why I have maintained that if we are diligent about the proper management of the jail, we can place the mental health and substance abuse inmates into a mental health or substance abuse treatment regimen that will not only place them in the most appropriate place, it will tend to cure them of the demons that haunt them.

The benefit to Bexar County citizens and taxpayers is that every 400 inmates cost us roughly $7 million annually. It you double that number of inmates to 800, you have a cost of $14 million annually! What's worse is that if we only treat the symptom, we never interrupt the cycle of incarceration at the Bexar County Jail.

There are other "process" and administrative-related dynamics that cause inmates to overstay their welcome at the all-maximum security Bexar County Jail. Also, there are times during the year that large festive events are thought to generate additional inmates for such things as DWI, public intoxication and various forms of disorderly conduct. They are arrested, cuffed, mugged (photographed) and taken to the magistrate where a bond can be set for their release, if they qualify.

All of the above provide discrete and select opportunities for reducing the jail population and saving big bucks! Just the other day, a reduction of 200 inmates provided a $10,000 per day savings. This all presupposes that magistrates are very select in identifying just who is able to be appropriately and safely released. People who are a danger to society should be firmly retained in our jail at all times. There are other categories of inmates that must be retained as well.

The failure to address the subject of proper jail population is to unwittingly develop a very expensive jail.

Energy Conservation, Efficiency & Renewables

With just a one-time $106,390.00 investment, our Energy Manager Vince Fuentez with the full backing of Commissioner's Court has realized an annual recurring savings of $166,000.00 or a two-year savings of $332,000.00! In partnership with CPS Energy, Bexar County will implement $1,600,000.00 in energy conservation and efficiency to complete half of our projects for an estimated annual recurring savings of $500,000.00! With a final energy efficiency, conservation and renewables, an annual recurring savings will amount to $1,000,000.00!

These are two major ways in which we are grinding out the savings for Bexar County taxpayers! And we have only just begun. Replicating the energy component at the University Health System (the County Hospital) holds just under twice the potential energy savings in my opinion as the County. I will keep you posted.

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