By Wyatt Goolsby
The final word is in from officials in Pecos County - their detention center will soon be gone. This week, commissioners have been talking about ways to cut the county's budget. The decision to close the facility was one of the biggest issues they talked about.
"It just came down to a matter of economics, it's not worth keeping it open, and losing somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 dollars a year. That's not being fair to the taxpayers of Pecos County," said Judge Joe Shuster.
As the Commissioner's Court continues to finalize their budget proposal for the 2008 year, they say the juvenile detention center costs more money to leave open than to close it down. Judge Joe Shuster said after doing a little bit of math, they realized how much they could save.
"We put the pen and pencil to it, and we're running a 720,000 dollar facility, and we could be doing the same thing without the facility for about 350,000 dollars," Shuster explained.
Judge Shuster also said that the facility only has a 15 to 18 percent occupancy rate. Those offenders will be shipped off to other facilities like in Midland and Ector Counties, officially, when the center closes on December 31st. NewsWest 9 spoke with employees of the Detention Center. One told us that they are not sure where the current employees will go for new jobs. There are about 15 employees right now, but the County doesn't have job possibilities for all of them. And even though these are serious short term problems, Judge Shuster said in the long run this will be better for the County.
"We did cut that expense out of the budget, so therefore it won't be there in the years to come, and if you are cutting 400,000 dollars this year, that's 400,000 you're going to save for the next 10 years, you're talking four million dollars," said Shuster.
The other big issue that has been raised by employees at the detention center is where all of the juveniles in Pecos County are going to go. Midland and Ector Counties usually have facilities that are nearly full.