By MICHAEL D. BATES | Hernando Today
Published: March 17, 2010
BROOKSVILLE - Sheriff Richard Nugent said he has been pressing the county for four years to do a financial analysis of the Hernando County Jail to get a better picture of costs and operations.
To his knowledge, a due diligence financial perspective hasn't been done in the 22 years Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been running the jail and much has changed since then, he said.
Even if is determined that CCA can continue running the jail more cost effectively than the sheriff, at least the county will have the benefit of having looked at CCA's books and get a better picture of operations, Nugent said Wednesday.
If CCA can do the job cheaper, Nugent said he will back off his proposal of taking over operations.
"If our initial assumptions are all wrong, then we'll say we were all wrong," Nugent said. "I'm not going to go into something and have it backfire on the sheriff's department. There's no upside to that."
Nugent said he and his chief Bill Kicklighter, along with assistant financial director Catie Blue, will meet with county officials to go over CCA's books at a time still to be determined.
CCA officials agreed last week to open the company's books to help county commissioners in their decision whether to continue its contract with CCA or turn control over to Nugent and his staff.
Commissioner Jeff Stabins said he also intends to look at CCA's financial books and will take along some of his budget staffers.
Stabins agreed that a thorough review of the books is in order, and it should put to rest the questions of who can run the jail more cost effectively.
"We're going into this with open minds and a good positive attitude," Stabins said. "We all want what's best for the taxpayers of
Nugent said Wednesday he hasn't made any secret his department has no experience running a jail.
That's why he has solicited the help of several wardens and jail administrators and sheriff's offices throughout the state and is planning a trip to
"We don't have the experience and we've been very upfront about that," Nugent said. "But we certainly have management experience, and that's why we've brought in experts from the field to give us information and go over the process."
Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or email@example.com.