We congratulate: Shelby County's timely new jail deal

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Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits attracts a new contract that gives big push to troubled county budget.

The swift and positive reaction by Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits and the county’s magistrates to an opportunity for new business will provide an important infusion of cash into a county budget that is becoming difficult to balance.
Waits was quick to respond earlier this spring to a brief openinig to secure a $600,000 contract with Anderson County to house its inmates.
Anderson officials had become disenfranchised by their treatment by jail officials in Franklin County, and when they looked to move their business, Shelby was their first  and very accommodating option.
Last week, when Anderson County Fiscal Court was ready to make a final decision, Waits was ready with a contract  that easily was pushed through Shelby County Fiscal Court as well.
All that happened in a few hours last Tuesday at a couple of meetings that Waits didn’t even have to attend.
The good news is that the county jail’s budget is now richer and more of its cells are full.
The bad news is that even with that new revenue, the county’s overall budget for fiscal 2011-12 is tight and strained, so strained that County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger had proposed reducing emergency services because of declining revenue there, too.
A group of magistrates, however, forged a compromise to his proposed budget that would bring review to the EMS structure in October, when the county will have a more accurate grasp of the cost of its employees’ insurance.
And we believe that wait-and-see approach is good at least for the time being.
The county’s proposed budget continues to avoid layoffs and provides small pay raises. We’re glad to hear that, because none of us wants to curtail any services or see anyone out of a job.
We hope that when the review occurs this fall, there will be no need to reduce staffing and facilities around the county.
We’re just glad that the opportunity presented to Waits makes that probability a bit more likely than it might have been.