Upon its completion, the Lubbock County Detention Center was estimated to be able to house 200 federal inmates in addition to its regular inmate population. With federal inmates, comes federal dollars.
However, according to Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe, the current average population of federal inmates at the detention center is only 70.
"It is something that does help offset the general fund budget when we do have any additional fund revenue coming in," Rowe said.
County Commissioner Patti Jones said that does pose a small problem because the number of federal inmates was expected to be much higher last year.
"So yea, when the number is down like this it does affect us on our budget. We still try to budget pretty conservative, even at that point, but again, until we see what the final numbers end up being at the end of the year, we very much so could see a shortfall in what we had budgeted for 2011.
Jones, in part, blames budget strains on the federal government itself.
"They can't seem to get a budget adopted and continuing resolutions," Jones said. "And so everybody that's got anything to do that's federally funded, they're all kind of tightening their straps and keeping things at a minimum, that sort of thing. So, that directly and indirectly affects us."
Rowe agrees and also attributes the low numbers to what is happening with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
"Whatever they're trending is usually the way the jails go," he said. "If they're doing heavy incarceration and longer sentences, you'll see your jail population trend down. If they have to pare down, if they do any reductions, then you'll see increased populations back in the jail."
Rowe stressed one important detail, housing federal inmates is not a commitment, it's an agreement.
"Even with the population trending down some right now, there's things on the horizon that you could look at if we had a crystal ball that would cause the population to start increasing back up," he said.
For future budget's sake, Jones is hoping it does.
"So that anything over what we're looking at can be what we consider 'gravy' or extra," she said.
Rowe estimates that if the detention center were housing all 200 federal inmates, a total of $4 million in yearly revenue would be flowing in.