Columbus – Thanks to Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, Sandusky County jail inmates help to save tens of thousands of dollars each year by growing their own food. Auditor of State Dave Yost recognized Sheriff Overmyer’s extraordinary efforts to save public dollars in a ceremony today and presented him with the first-ever Auditor of State Taxpayer Hero Award.
“This garden is a win-win situation for Sandusky County,” Auditor Yost said. “Sheriff Overmyer found a way to save a significant amount of money while at the same time giving back to the community. That’s a real taxpayer hero, and I am proud to recognize his hard work.”
In 2009, Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer began the inmate garden in a small plot behind the jail. Initially supported through donations, inmates began to grow their own fresh produce, saving taxpayers the money needed to purchase the food. The garden produces fruits and vegetables such as corn, cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes, melon and raspberries. In addition to fresh produce, inmates care for a chicken coop. In 2010, prisoners raised 100 chickens, which produced more than 600 pounds of fresh chicken meat.
Sheriff Overmyer also cut costs at the jail by revamping the menu served to inmates and changing the food supplier to a local company. In its first year alone, the jail saved an estimated $25,000 in food expenses. The jail’s annual food budget dropped from $120,000 a few years ago to $88,000 in 2011.
The sheriff’s office gives back to the community by donating hundreds of pounds of produce to local food pantries and soup kitchens. The garden also serves as a rehabilitation program for inmates.
The Taxpayer Hero Award was created by Auditor Yost to acknowledge the efforts of local government officials who demonstrate innovative ideas to cut costs and increase efficiency in their entities.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.