County sees increase in offender program use
In the past year, Leavenworth County has experienced an increase of use in its programs designed to keep adult offenders out of jail, but state funding isn't keeping up with that growth.
Community Corrections Director Mikel Lovin told county commissioners on Thursday that the average daily population for adults in his program, which is the last stop before incarceration, is up by more than 10 offenders since the end of the fiscal year in June.
"That's significant," said Lovin, noting the current average is 88.4 offenders. "At the end of last year it was 76, and that's what our budget is based on."
Lovin said the majority of cases in the past quarter have been "low-level, first time narcotics possession charges."
On the juvenile side, the average daily population remained steady at 124 offenders from the end of fiscal year 2007 to present.
Commissioner Clyde Graeber expressed dissatisfaction with budgetary shortfalls and pointed to the method in which the state funds different judicial districts as the culprit.
"I think it's fascinating that we keep having increases, and they (the state) keep decreasing our funding," he said.
In other business Thursday, commissioners:
¢ Voted, 3-0, to promote Public Works deputy director Mike Spickelmier to department director at current director Bill Green's salary of $81,549. Green, who is retiring, said he expects to vacate his post in mid-December.
¢ Heard a monthly report from Public Works officials.
Commissioners questioned whether it was the responsibility of the county or of various townships to maintain rural cemeteries that have become overgrown after a request for work came in.
"I'm not in favor of using noxious weed chemicals to spray any cemeteries," Commissioner Dean Oroke said, pointing to liability issues. "There are other ways."
"Our (the county's) responsibilities end with the containment and control of noxious weeds," Spickelmier responded. "In my opinion, this should be taken on a case-by-case basis."