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Overruns Vex Council; Jail May Need an Extra $2.5 Million

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Including the jail, three of those agencies are expected to have more than a million in overruns. The Department of Public Works anticipates needing $1.6 million more; the Richmond Police Department anticipates needing $1.7 million more.

Additionally, Harris says, the police department is increasing its allocation for overtime to $2.4 million — what the jail's expected to need — for "high-profile, intense homicide cases" such as the Taylor Behl and Harvey/Tucker-Baskerville family murders.

The jail, however, caused the most consternation. According to city figures, the jail has spent almost 54 percent of its annual budget of $26 million halfway into the fiscal year, which began July 1. With total year-end expenditures at the jail expected to reach $28.5 million, that makes for a $2.5 million add-on.

Even before citing the jail's overspending, the finance meeting had become strained. Last week Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder asked City Council to cough up $12.5 million from various areas of city government in order to make the city's budget more in line with original projections.

Some council members had balked that popular programs and services might be prematurely cut or else abandoned — such as having the city save $240,000 by postponing Supercan replacements or scaling back the city's tree-planting initiative.

The mayor's request, formalized by a paper introduced Feb. 15 before the finance committee, left its members — Council representatives William J. "Bill" Pantele, Kathy Graziano and Eugene Mason — visibly puzzled.

"What was going on with medical expenses at the jail?" Pantele asked after reviewing financial data provided to the committee. "That's killing us. Sure enough, it's way out of bounds."

Meanwhile, Pantele says that he's been approached by officials in Powhatan County about building a new regional jail and sharing the responsibilities wherein "logically medical care would be a joint approach." S

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