In Saratoga County, New York, the operation of vehicles that transport inmates from the Saratoga County Jail to and from other jails, court hearings, and medical appointments, is now handled by designated sheriff’s deputies. However, the cost of the team overshadows the $8,000 in savings on overtime through the month of April.
Included in the 2016 budget is $187,200 for eight part-time personnel who work between 9am and 8pm transporting inmates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and earn $20 an hour. According to Sheriff Michael Zurlo, having a transportation team that works within the sheriff’s office gets full-time deputies back out on patrols and cuts down on overtime for the deputies transporting inmates. He said, “It’s mostly about protecting the residents of the county,” and, “We’re keeping the road patrols on the road, which has been a huge benefit,” as reported by timesunion.
While the county’s fund balance covered the budget for the transportation team, unanticipated revenue from tobacco settlement, $4.1 million and from casino licensing, $1.2 million, means the fund balance’s $2.3 million in the $296.5 million budget for this year won’t be tapped, said County Administrator Spencer Hellwig III. He said, “It doesn’t appear that the county is going to use any fund balance to make ends meet, which means our fund balance will probably exceed $20 million at the end of the year.”
While money from casino licensing is not ongoing revenue, a revenue stream is expected by officials when Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady opens. Under the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act, the county will receive 10 percent of the casino’s revenue. The county’s 2015 year-end report, which was released in April, discussed the fund balance and showed that of eight individual funds two had an operating deficit. The two included the self-insurance fund and the sewer fund, $472,706 and $122,232 respectively. The year ended with a general fund balance of $19,373,003 for Saratoga, which comprises 7 percent of the budget.
On April 18, the $330 million Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady had its topping off ceremony. The casino is on schedule to open in the first quarter of 2017 as planned, according to Rush Street Gaming. The casino’s 50,000-square-foot gaming floor will include 1,150 slot machines, 16 poker tables, and 63 gaming tables, which will be attached to a 163-room hotel. It will also include a 600 person capacity, 10,000-square-foot banquet facility for hosting conventions and special events.