Due to increases in inmate population and higher meal prices, Houston County Jail officials project they will need an extra $120,972.93 this fiscal year for feeding costs.

Houston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Bill Rafferty presented the budget amendment request to county commissioners during an administrative meeting Thursday. Officials had determined the 2019 fiscal year budget shortly before the jail learned meal costs would increase about 13 cents per meal, Rafferty said.

Additionally, officials used inmate population figures in the 250 to 300 range in setting the budget. The jail has experienced a sharp increase in population in recent months, Rafferty said, averaging in the 350 to 400 range.

When the county approved the new inmate meals contract, officials estimated the new prices would top the budget projections by about $40,000, an earlier Eagle report said.

Houston County Chief Administrative Officer Peter Covert said he analyzed three years of jail population data to project the scope of the budget deficit. He noted the nearly $121,000 would be a “fairly accurate assessment” of the final meal costs with about 10 weeks left in the fiscal year.

Undesignated funds will cover the extra expenditures if commissioners approve the budget amendment, Covert said.

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