RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Who said crime was a dirty business? Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff’s request to spend $293,000 on new commercial washing machines to clean inmate laundry was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
The sheriff intends to tap a fund reserved for inmate booking fees to pay for the seven Milnor industrial washers, which will replace units long in operation at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
A total of nine washers handle an average 1.5 million pounds of laundry annually, cleaning bedding and uniforms from the Smith facility, the Indio Jail, the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta and the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
During a contentious budget workshop on Monday, Chairman Bob Buster drew attention to the planned washing machine purchases, grilling the sheriff as to why his department was so deep in the hole when there were sub funds like the one for booking fees available from which to withdraw revenue.
“There’s a lot of money squirreled away here,” Buster said, noting the fund had a balance of $6 million.
The Sheriff’s Department is anticipating a $35 million to $81 million shortfall in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Sniff was given limited opportunity to respond to Buster’s question, telling the supervisor at one point that he was trying to mix “apples and oranges.”
According to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joe Borja, the California Government Code restricts the use of booking fee funds to “maintenance and construction” of county jail facilities.
The washing machines fall into the maintenance category.
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