February 20, 2013

Somerset County Jail sees changing of the guard

Cut expected to save more than $90,700 in salary and benefits; duties delegated to Maj. Cory Swope

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- The county's No. 2 jail administrator took over day-to-day operations of the jail Wednesday, a day after the top administrator's job was taken out of the budget to cut costs.

Maj. Cory Swope, the assistant Somerset County jail administrator, replaced Maj. David Allen, 46, who was relieved of his duties Tuesday when his position was dropped from the jail budget for fiscal 2014.

Swope, 34, of Skowhegan, along with Chief Deputy Dale Lancaster, presented the projected jail budget for the coming year to county commissioners Wednesday.

Lancaster, who came aboard in September, said Sheriff Barry DeLong decided not to fund the top administrator's position. DeLong, who is expected back soon from a short leave of absence he took for health reasons, will assume the job of jail administrator, he said.

He said dropping the top administrator's position immediately saves the county more than $90,700 in basic salary and benefits.

Early projections show the jail budget coming in at about $7.1 million for 2014, up marginally from the current budget of $6.8 million.

Neither figure contains the annual payment of about $2.6 million on the debt for building the jail, which opened in October 2008.

"The sheriff and the county administrator have worked extremely hard at being fiscally sound, and we're trying to minimize the costs," Lancaster said.

Swope's salary is set at a base rate of $57,408 for the coming year. With added benefits, his total pay is calculated in the new budget at $74,850. Salaries of the sheriff and the chief deputy are not part of the jail budget, but will be reviewed as part of the Somerset County Sheriff's Department budget in the coming weeks.

The fiscal year ends June 30.

Lancaster said the projected jail budget covers operations for the housing and feeding of 165 inmates. Jail capacity is around 200. He said 65 percent of the budget is for salary and benefits.

The final jail budget must go before the state Board of Corrections for adoption. The budget includes salaries and benefits for 89 jail employees.

Swope, who earned a corrections degree from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, was hired by the county in September 2007. He and Allen were part of the transition team during the construction of the new jail in East Madison.

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367

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