Howard County Community Corrections may look to user fees assessed to in-home detention participants to generate more revenue amid growing budget concerns.
Most of community corrections funding comes from in-home detention fees, between $440,000 and $460,000 per year, while the remainder of its funding comes from the Department of Corrections, which provides $225,000 annually. The department does not receive any funding from Howard County.
The cost of operating the in-home detention program, which currently has 160 participants, has gone up in recent years. Community corrections began leasing ankle monitoring bracelets after the previous monitoring equipment, which it owned, stopped working about six years ago.
Leasing the bracelets costs $3.50 per day, per person, Howard County Director of Adult Community Corrections Ray Tetrault said.
“The main funding issue is having to lease the equipment,” he said. “It’s just an added expense that we never used to have.”
In-home detention participants are required to pay a daily fee of at least $9 as part of their sentencing. That fee has not been increased in at least four years, Tetrault noted.
Tetrault said with ankle monitoring bracelets costing between $170,000 and $190,000 per year to lease, something must be done to keep community corrections afloat. He estimated the department is losing $65,000 per year under its current user fee structure.
“In a way I’m feeling beat up because it was already on a downward trend financially,” Tetrault said. “If we have a meeting in December  and nothing has changed, we are going to be in a position of doing emergency things like having no field officers, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Members of the community corrections advisory board assured Tetrault the funding issue will be addressed. Howard County Superior Court 3 Judge Doug Tate and Superior Court 1 Judge William Menges both said they would not be opposed to increased user fees, but said other options like budget cuts must be considered.