SHERIFF GARCIA IDENTIFIES MORE WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS
Houston – Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia today presented to Commissioners Court a study showing that the county can save $3 million a year by converting to part-time county employment the jail medical staff that currently works for private contracting companies.
“In these tough times, taxpayers are demanding more care to avoid waste, and I believe this item will speak directly to that,” the sheriff told the county judge and county commissioners at a public meeting.
Direct employment of nurses and other medical staff will also increase the quality of care that the county must provide to inmates, Sheriff Garcia explained, because workers will answer directly to the sheriff and the court rather than to “middleman” private employers.
County Judge Ed Emmett asked the county Management Services office to consider the study and make recommendations to the court at its next meeting two weeks from now. That’s when Commissioners Court will also consider a plan to hire jail staffers, which would alleviate the need to pay millions of dollars in overtime to current civilian detention officers and sheriff’s deputies who staff the jail.
“My staff continues to be overworked,” the sheriff said today.
At its previous meeting, Sheriff Garcia showed the court how $5 million was being wasted every year by paying the overtime rather than hiring new employees.
This means Sheriff Garcia has identified a total of $8 million in savings in the last two weeks. Other initiatives by Sheriff Garcia and staff have saved the county more than $10 million thanks to improvements in the administration of the sheriff’s office.
Although the county is ending its 20-month freeze on the hiring of employees for all county agencies, the sheriff always needs Commissioners Court approval for the creation and funding of new employment positions.