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Other Matters: Funding Concerns

Other issues identified that were outside the scope of the audit of the Hampshire Sheriff's Department.

Table of Contents

Funding Concerns

During our audit, we reviewed the Hampshire Sheriff’s Department (HSD) budget and budgeting practices for fiscal year 2017. During our review, we determined that HSD had been using an Inmate Benefit Fund (IBF)3 to purchase various types of goods and services, many of which were required by state regulations. For example, county correctional facilities are required to provide inmates with things such as academic and vocational education training and supplies, social services, library services, recreational and leisure activities, religious services, legal assistance services, personal hygiene goods, clothing, and linens and bedding. Officials from HSD’s Finance Department told us that HSD had been funding these expenses in this manner for more than a decade.

58% IBF expenditures were for items required by state regulations

 

In fiscal year 2017, the IBF had total revenue of $272,729; the major sources of revenue were the commissions earned from telephone and commissary contracts. Expenditures from the IBF in fiscal year 2017 totaled $269,717. Using fiscal year 2017 expenditure data for the IBF provided by HSD officials, we determined that $156,616, or 58%, was spent on items required by state regulations. The remaining funds were also used for the benefit of inmates, on items such as barbershop supplies, cell phones for minimum-security inmates on work release, inmate wages, notary services, office supplies, postage, snow boots, train/bus fares, and translator services.         

HSD officials told us they did not believe they would be able to fund the required goods and services without funds from the IBF. Additionally, we were told that HSD had not included these required goods and services in its annual budget request for a number of years. Instead, HSD expects the IBF revenue to cover these expenses annually. However, because IBF revenue is variable and not guaranteed, sufficient funding may not always be available to pay for required goods and services. Therefore, in our opinion, HSD should consider submitting annual budget requests to the Legislature that include funding for all anticipated required goods and services to ensure that adequate funding is available.        

3. In its 2017 Fiscal Accounts Policy, HSD describes IBF as follows: “All moneys received as private donations to the institution, interest money earned minus services charges from the minimum and medium security accounts, telephone and canteen commissions are deposited into this fund. This account is used for the sole purpose of purchasing equipment or services that are to benefit the maximum number of inmates in the facility.”

Date published: May 1, 2018
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