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Court reviews jail inmate data, outsource costs

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Hays County Commissioners Court held one of its shorter regularly scheduled meetings Tuesday, adjourning for executive session after only an hour and a half. It was still long enough, though, for commissioners to look at current statistics for the Hays County Jail and to extensively consider what to do about a unique employee benefit concern.

Hays County Commissioners Court Judge Ruben Becerra addressed the recent jail inmate report sent to him by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.

Noting that the maximum capacity for the jail remains at 410 inmates, he said this includes a requirement to leave 10% capacity available, reducing the average daily capacity to approximately 368. Becerra said the jail’s daily average, which includes the outsourced inmates, was 552 inmates with a peak of 564 on Sept. 8.

He said the estimated cost for outsourced inmates this week was $168,740, and the average number of outsourced males is 255 and females is four. He said the outsourced inmates are held at facilities in Comal, Haskell and Maverick counties. He added that there are 44 paper-ready inmates– those that have made their way through the judicial system and are now technically state inmates.

In one of the longer parts of the meeting, commissioners discussed how best to handle a request for an employee to have a reinstatement of time returned to their permanent record of employment.

The court voted 3 to 2, with Hays County Commissioners Lon Shell (Precinct-3) and Walt Smith (Precinct-4) casting the dissenting votes, to approve the reinstatement of dates of employment before a period of unemployment that occurred between Jan. 26 and Feb. 6 of this year for a Hays County employee. This personnel action by the court would lead to the reinstatement of benefits accrued before the break in employment, according to information presented in the meeting.

Hays County Commissioner Precinct-2 Michelle Cohen made a motion for the court to vote to approve this item.

Cohen moved that the court “reinstate sick leave balance of 154.5 hours and vacation accruals at eight hours per month effective 1/26/23.”

Shell said that his decision was not personal, but he voted against the agenda item, saying that it “could set a precedent that I think could be detrimental to the future of the organization and its employees.”

Becerra said he felt comfortable voting in favor of the personnel decision. “I have faith in our HR director to help spearhead a countywide updated policy to address these things in the future,” Becerra said.

Smith said he felt there should be a cap on the amount of hours of sick leave that can be reinstated. He said he wanted to make sure that whatever policy comes from this, it be applicable to all employees across the board.

The court proclaimed Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week and Sept. 16 as the Hispanic Heritage Expedition Walk Day.

In designating a Constitution Week this month, court officials by way of a written proclamation asked that the public take time to reaffirm the ideals that the creators of the U.S. Constitution had in 1787.

“By vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian of our liberties,” the proclamation stated.

The court also proclaimed Sept. 16 as the second annual Hispanic Heritage Expedition Walk Day. The walk, sponsored by LULAC 654 and Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, will take place in San Marcos, serving as the kick-off event for the community-wide Hispanic Heritage Month, according to court documents. Court officials said the event will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Centro Cultural Hispano. The event will have music, vendors and family activities.

“Humanity and centuries of hope and sacrifice has brought us to commemorate the strong and visible roots of hispanic heritage, which has contributed to the infrastructure in farming, business, science and the performing arts in the national, regional and local landscape of our nation,” the proclamation stated. “Hays County encourages and promotes strong, inclusive communities that recognize and celebrate efforts to bring people together for a greater good.”

Hays County Commissioner Precinct-2 Michelle Cohen said she heard the walk would be a much bigger event this year than last.

“I am excited to be a part of that [the walk] as a speaker,” Cohen said. “This is a time for us to celebrate our heritage and share our history with our youth and elevate the community all around.”

Becerra said cultural variety as well as political variety makes the county stronger as a community.

“The more we reach for one another, the more we will understand one another,” Becerra said. “The more we understand one another, the more we will respect and appreciate our independence [and} our individualities. Yet, we are all still Texans and Americans.”

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666