James Bailey, the correctional administrator for Two Bridges Regional Jail, stands in front of the facility in this file photo. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

WISCASSET — The Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multi-County Jail Authority adopted a $5.5 million budget Wednesday that will cut 15 positions at Two Bridges Regional Jail starting next month, according to correctional administrator James Bailey.

Bailey said he expects to eliminate the 15 positions in two phases, the first in mid-July and the second August. Most are full-time posts. Bailey said 12 current employees will lose their jobs. One of those employees was planning to retire soon and will be offered early retirement, he said.

It is not just guards, Bailey said, as every department will see a reduction. That will take the overall 55 staffing positions down to 40 total employees.

“This is a hard thing for the jail authority,” Bailey said Thursday. “It’s a hard thing for me. I don’t want to see any of my staff go. Today I spent the day reaching out to other counties and the (Maine) Department of Corrections that I know have openings and attempting to gather other resources.”

The new $5.5 million jail budget takes effect in July and is a $625,690, or 10.2%, reduction from the current $6.1 million budget. The jail will transition to holding primarily Lincoln and Sagadahoc county inmates with staffing for an average daily population of 75 inmates, according to a press release. The jail will still have room to boarding an average of between 20 to 25 inmates from another county at a rate of at least $65 a day.

The jail authority also approved a six-month, $280,000 contract with Oxford County to hold up to 25 Oxford County inmates. After that contract expires, the jail won’t have any contracts to accept a certain number of inmates from other counties.

Bailey said it is a culmination of factors that lead to budget cuts. The jail implemented a new pay scale incorporating 2% increases each year to respond to the cost of living increases.

The jail has also struggled to keep inmate boarding contracts with other counties. To try to run the jail as it did last year with its contracts with Oxford and Penobscot counties, the jail was looking at a $700,000 deficit, Bailey said.

The coronavirus pandemic also led to fewer inmates at Two Bridges Regional Jail, including boarding inmates from other counties.

Last fiscal year, Two Bridges lost a $1 million contract with Waldo County to take its inmates. Bailey cut seven positions through attrition in the current budget as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

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