Woodbury Co. Sheriff: "Budget on a Path to Fiscal Disaster"

(SIOUX CITY, IA) He had to fight to get more volunteers for the Sheriff's Department but now the Woodbury County Sheriff is facing a new battle to get more paid personnel on the staff.

Sheriff Dave Drew says he needs more jailers and nurses to deal with the inmate population.
But supervisor Larry Clausen isn't convinced yet of Drew's argument.

For years now Sheriff Drew says the Woodbury County Jail has operated understaffed - not enough correctional officers to control inmates and not enough nurses to help with inmates who are intoxicated or in need of medical assistance.

"What we're doing is we're having correctional officers diagnose the symptoms, contact the jail nurse and it's just a recipe for disaster," said Sheriff Drew.

He says the jail was running with 2 full-time nurses, one part-time nurse and 58 officers including administration.

With only 6 on duty at any given time - 2 were inside control rooms unable to help with most of the work which left just 4 officers to feed, book and move prisoners, hand out medication and conduct jail checks.

Drew says over the last 90 days, the jail has housed between 195-200 inmates. He says the ratio between officers and prisoners just isn't adding up.

"When the Police department is bringing in people on a Saturday night, that probably aren't the same as they are on a Sunday morning their behavior requires more people," he said.

Drew says he added 2 more officers per shift and is currently paying them overtime. If it continues for the rest of the fiscal year the sheriff says he's spending $180,000 in OT. The current budget only allows for $32,000.

"We're on a sort of Fiscal disaster for our overtime," he said.

Sheriff Drew wants a few extra employees added to the payroll. He wants 1 nurse and 2 correctional officers added each year for the next three years. That's a total of 9 new employees.

"I think that those are very good numbers for the recommendations he made this morning relative to what resources we have to fund that right now," said George Boykin, with the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.

Board members right now don't want to see any money come from the County's reserve fund but Boykin says there are other options.

"We have in the budget that has been budgeted for positions that we have not filled in his department that we can get the money from," said Boykin.

The Woodbury County Board of supervisors and Sheriff Drew will meet again October 8th, once they figure out how much all this is going to cost and where the money will come from.