COOPERSTOWN–Not one inmate is currently held inside the Otsego County Jail–renovation and heavy Halloween rain are to blame.
“We’ve had some issues that we have been trying to rectify. The storm on Halloween just increased that issue,” Sheriff Richard Devlin said.
The jail has been undergoing renovation for the past few months, and 31 inmates were boarded out to Delaware County as a result of this previously budgeted-for project.
However, 21 full-time and eight weekend inmates were displaced to Albany County due to historic October-ending rainfall.
The cost to board-out water-displaced inmates figures to “87 dollars a day, per inmate,” Otsego County Board of Representatives Chairman David Bliss estimated.
Bliss said the county is paying for the unexpected inmate board-out from the contingency line in the 2019 operating budget; noting that the contingency line will likely run dry in two to three weeks.
Inmate board-out is estimated to last six to eight more weeks, therefore Bliss says the county’s cost-bearing will first involve searching for “unexpended funds throughout the budget that we can then transfer to cover that”.
The funding option thereafter? The county’s reserves, Bliss said.
For jail repairs, due to the recent weathered-problem, the Otsego County Board of Representatives approved up to $230,000 in ’emergency spending.’
County funds were redirected from the 2019 ‘building repair’ budgeted item–not yet used–according to Bliss.
Despite the infrastructure problem areas already identified, Sheriff Devlin said the New York State Commission of Correction has yet to approve repairs to proceed with work.
“We’re looking at a 30 to 45-day for total repairs, including the roof as well as some other items that have been identified during inspection.”
Colin Brennan, a spokesperson for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said NYSDHSES will include the jail damage in their statewide assessments of areas impacted by Halloween flooding.
NYSDHSES says the statewide damage assessment is necessary to apply for a FEMA “disaster declaration,” where federal financial assistance may be approved to help rebuild.