Sedgwick County Commissioners Debate Future Of Boys Ranch

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

Judge Riddel Boys Ranch

JRBR is licensed to provide 24-hour residential care and programming for 42 male juvenile offenders, ages 14 through 20, who have been placed in State custody.

In June 2013, the State Legislature adopted a budget with an additional $750,000 to be allocated to JRBR for State Fiscal Year 2014; however, no funding was included for State Fiscal Year 2015, which will begin July 1, 2014.

The 2014 recommended budget reflects funding the program through June 30, 2014. If daily State reimbursement rates are increased adequately, funds from County contingencies will be used to fund the final six months of 2014.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Sedgwick County 2014 recommended budget shows operating Judge Riddel Boys Ranch with no county subsidy through June 30, 2014.

"The majority of the commission wants to see that program succeed, see it continue into the future, but the issue is we have one year of funding," said Chairman Jim Skelton.

State legislators gave a one-year grant to the county in the amount of $750,000 to pay for the program, which covers funding through their fiscal year, ending June 30.

"Like the folks in the community and our state legislators, we understand the value of the programs out there, but this is a state program," said Commissioner Dave Unruh. "We are in the position of a vendor for these services that the state provides."

Commissioner Richard Ranzau disagrees with the current budget recommendation. He proposes the county keep the Boys Ranch open through December 31, 2014 by fully funding operations at 2013 levels and spending an additional $96,023 to pay for more staff.

"I think it's a very important program that needs to continue, even if that means we use county dollars to help fund this," said Ranzau.

The state currently pays the county at Youth Resident Center (YRC 2) rates for each youth who is a ward of the state. For years, the county has chosen to offer more services to reduce recidivism, which costs more than YRC 2 rates.

In 2013, staff transitioned from 8-hour work shifts to 12-hour works shifts to help increase the efficiency of the facility.

"We have been providing more than the state paid for because we saw the value of those services and those programs," said Unruh. "But we're in a situation now where the county budget doesn't allow us to subsidize a state program."

The second public hearing for the budget is scheduled for July 31 at 9 a.m. Commissioners will adopt the budget on August 7 at 9 a.m.

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