CHARLESTON - The recent regular audit of the county has confirmed roughly $23,000 is missing from the Mississippi County Detention Center.
Mississippi County commissioners discussed the missing money and other issues related to the jail during their regular meeting Thursday.
The audit of the jail goes back three years instead of just two years like the rest of the county audit, but how much exactly is missing is still in question, according to commissioners. Money from commissary sales and prisoner phone services was lumped together. Receipt records did not document what was deposited.
Under the jail's previous administration purchases were made from the funds without going through regular budget process, according to County Treasurer Sandra DeField. This enabled them to spend over budget, she said.
"They bought a lot of stuff out of commissary (funds)," County Clerk Junior DeLay said.
According to county officials, the auditor identified a shortage of $40,000 from which $17,221 can be deducted for money that was not transferred to the county from commissary sales but should have been.
The county's new sheriff, Keith Moore, said he agreed to investigate any missing money when he took office.
Bob Whitehead, the new jail administrator, said all recommendations from the auditor are implemented.
Whitehead said he and one other person are the only ones handling any money at the jail now and they should be able to catch and correct any errors on a daily basis. "There's virtually no cash," he said.
The commissary generated about $7,000 in March, according to Whitehead, and the department rarely receives any cash for bonds now.
Some of the missing money may be related to the prior administration reportedly giving cigarettes to prisoners instead of selling them, according to county officials.
Also there was $1,500 in bond money that still has not been accounted for. "There's no trace of it," Moore said.
"When we get it all figured out, we will turn it over to the insurance bonding company," said Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg.
In other business during Thursday's meeting:
* Commissioners approved the purchase of eight X-26 Taser stun guns. Moore said they are the same type Charleston police have, "the smaller Taser."
Six of the Tasers will be for road deputies and two for the jail. "We're going to get the yellow so nobody thinks it's a gun if we pull it out on somebody," Moore said.
The cost is about $799 for each Taser but the total package, which includes training, software for cartridge reports and extra cartridges, is $8,609.11.
The purchase will be made using Homeland Security grant funds the county was already approved for.
Moore said he would place the order at the beginning of next week after which it should take "about a week or so to get them."
* Whitehead reported the jail is presently holding 47 prisoners for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Options for ICE prisoner transportation were also discussed.
"I just don't want to lease a vehicle and I don't want any breakdowns," Blumenberg said.
He suggested purchasing a 2002 15-passenger van with 63,000 miles on it from the state surplus pool in Jefferson City for $12,000 as compared with over $55,000 for another 24-passenger bus.
Officials also discussed purchasing a divider cage insert for the van.
* A letter from Smith and Company was reviewed regarding the procedure to put the county's airport fuel tanks on inactive status.
The tanks must be emptied and locked before paperwork including a summary report can be filed. The tanks must also be registered with the Department of Natural Resources.
* Commissioners accepted the low bid of $3,099 from Anderson Computer in Charleston for a new computer processor for the E-911 system.
* The courthouse's irrigation system will be hooked up to city water.
Commissioners made the decision because 15-20 sprinkler heads are clogged up due to the high iron content in the irrigation well water.
* Matt Sorenson from Midland GIS Solutions will meet with commissioners during their next regular meeting Thursday to discuss the expansion and operation of the county's geographic information system.
Sorenson requested that W.R. "Bill" Thompson, county assessor, and Larry Hixon from the State Tax Commission attend.