The Other Shoe Drops on the Gulf County Jail

Tuesday night Gulf County Sheriff Dalton Upchurch dropped the first shoe, telling county commissioners he was handing over the operation of the county jail in Port St. Joe to them on April 1.

Wednesday night, Upchurch dropped the other shoe. During a special workshop on the jail issue, Upchurch told commissioners just because he's not going to operate the jail, he isn't planning on giving up any of his budget.

The sheriff says the county commission ignored his cries for too long. He insists that their indifference brought him to the decision to hand over responsibility for the jail.

It all comes while the county is in the middle of a financial struggle, and commissioners are scrambling to make arrangements.

It all comes down to money. Sheriff Upchurch attended a workshop Wednesday night to give commissioners an idea of what they face as new owners of the Gulf County Jail.

And while he was glad to unload the facility, what he won't surrender is the money he used to run it.

"That's what it cost us, we picked up the slack, we struggled."

According to Upchurch and Jail Administrator Captain Cook, it will cost the county $393,957 a year. This just adds to the shock that left commissioners blindsided Tuesday night.

Gulf County Commissioner Billy Williams says it’s all a case of unknowns right now.

"We have here a fiscal situation here that I'm very concerned about. We do not have the personnel hired. We don't know that the numbers have been run. We do not know if we can effectively do it. We have no estimate on the cost to repair these deficiencies."

One of those deficiencies is the jail's leaky roof. It would cost just 15 grand to patch it and $50,000 to replace.

Commissioners considered re-roofing the jail, but the $50,000 price tag would deplete the county's emergency reserves, and with hurricane season coming they decided to hold off for now.


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