Jail programs fail to receive more funding

Winnebago County Board member Jim Hughes (D-11) failed Sept. 30 in persuading his fellow County Board members to increase funding for jail alternative programs by $1 million at last week’s County Board meeting. Hughes and 21 other County Board members voted to approve the county’s 2005 budget, which includes funding 34 jobs through the jail tax.

Hughes’ proposal was rejected even though the jail tax generated about $2.2 million more than the estimated $23.1 million the sales tax hike was expected to collect during its first year.

The 34 jobs, which include law enforcement officials, court clerks, assistant state’s attorneys, public defenders and secretaries, are now permanently funded through the tax.

Republican board members Mary Ann Aiello (R-9) and Pete MacKay (R-5) voted against the budget. Aiello said she disagreed with using the jail tax money to fund jobs that were previously funded through other department funds.

Republican majority leader Tim Simms (R-14) refused to let the subject of increased funding for jail programs be debated at the July 8 County Board meeting.

Hughes repeated his vow Sept. 30 to keep the number of local inmates housed in the jail below 400, even though the proposed jail will have 1,212 beds with a capacity of approximately 1,500 beds.

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