Last Friday, Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe announced that the Troy Juvenile Detention Facility will most likely close.
After it closes, there will only be three juvenile detention facilities left in the state.
During the meeting on Friday, some of the facility’s nine part-time staff members sat quietly when the announcement was made public.
After years of having trouble spending the amount budgeted by the county, keeping qualified staff and experiencing costly overtime from their employees, the news didn’t come as a surprise.
“Financially, it makes sense,” the facility’s director Pam Norman said. “I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to run the last few years, actually, because we know that the numbers have not been good.”
The commissioners announced during their Jan. 4 meeting to allow the Sheriff’s Office to absorb Juvenile Detention.
Initially, the plan was for the facility to be a potential source of revenue for the county
After the math didn’t hold up, their second option was using the facility as a source of new employees in the jail.
Prior to the meeting, Sheriff Roby Bowe and Undersheriff Brandon Huff met with the facility’s employees to lay out the future plan.
Bowe said the staff had a few questions, but overall, breaking the news to them went well, considering the Sheriff’s Department has offered to have those employees fill their open detention officer positions at Libby’s jail.
Since the facility merged with the Sheriff’s Office, the facility employees technically work for the Sheriff’s Office already, and some of them have already worked alongside the detention officers during emergency situations.
Those who work at the detention facility have already gone through the academy, and would need some additional training to become certified.
After the announcement, county commissioner Mark Peck took a moment to address the facility’s staff.
“I hope no body feels that this is reflective of the performance or what you’ve guys have done, because it has nothing to do with that,” Peck said.
Huff also added that he told them prior to the meeting that this decision was never a reflection of the facility or the personnel.
“This really comes down to a dollars and cents decision,” Huff said.
In 2015, the juvenile detention department was budgeted $150,748, but spent $200,898. In the previous year, the department was about $40,000 over budget.
In 2016, the facility cost around $1,000 per day to run, according to Huff, and was open 200 days, equalling $200,000.
Out of the nine employees at the facility, there’s no word yet how many would want to come work for the Sheriff’s Office, specifically the jail.