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HCTC off to a good start

By Staff | Aug 4, 2009

Revenues exceeded expenses at the Heart of America Corrections and Treatment Center by $15,000 last month, and the Rugby facility is well on its way to surpassing that number in August, thanks to gradually increasing inmate numbers.

Elaine Little, HCTC administrator, gave a progress report of the facility’s finances and general overview to Pierce County and city officials last week.

It’s been nearly two months since the Rugby Area Job Development Authority (JDA) purchased the facility from USDA for just over $2 million and then established a triple-net lease with the county.

The last step in the transfer process is for USDA to formally absolve the debt incurred during the initial operation of the jail and treatment center, known as the North Central Correctional and Rehabilitation Center. Little said that should be completed soon. As part of the new ownership transfer, the facility needed to be renamed and establish a new advisory board.

Little reported the facility’s population is approaching full capacity, largely due to a boarding contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

More than two dozen inmates from that agency are presently housed in the facility, and the number is rising.

The average inmate count at the HCTC in July was 79, and so far this month it’s 87, and Little doesn’t expect numbers to drop any time soon. In fact, the jail likely could see more inmates in the coming months. BIA is paying approximately $64 a day per inmate.

Initially, the BIA contract was established to house that agency’s inmates while jails are remodeled and upgraded on area Indian reservations using federal stimulus funds. However, there is a more pressing need to find jail beds to address severe overcrowding at reservation jails, Little said. As a result, the BIA contract was tweaked to enable prisoners to be boarded at the Rugby facility now to ease overcrowding on reservation jails, including one on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. In time the contract’s intended purpose, to find a temporary home for the inmates while jail remodeling takes place, will be carried out.

Little said the financial picture does look positive. The estimated net income for the year with prisoner numbers averaging 85 is a little over $90,000. That figure grows to $200,000 with 90 inmates and over $380,000 with 100 or more.

The income will put the center in a good position to begin making monthly loan payments of just under $12,000 to the JDA in October.

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