BANGOR, Maine — Sheriff Troy Morton described the situation at the Penobscot County Jail as dire.

County officials knew at the start of the current fiscal year last July the jail faced a financial shortfall because the State Board of Corrections had ordered it to reduce its budget by more than $150,000 from the year before and costs were projected to rise. They didn’t know the shortfall would balloon to a projected $560,000 with six months remaining in the year.

“The county jails, Penobscot and others, were not funded from the get go,” Morton summed up this week.

Morton said the deficit boils down to projected revenues not keeping pace with increasing costs at the Bangor jail largely because of chronic overcrowding.

The jail has a listed capacity of 156 inmates and has an average daily population of 177. In addition, it boards out 56 inmates at other facilities and administers several low-risk inmates who qualify for pretrial services, which allows them to be released until their trials.

“We’ve lost $100,000 at least in federal boarding revenue because we have nowhere to put [federal inmates],” Morton said.

Penobscot County Jail has 78 full-time employees and 20 to 25 part-time employees. Its budget in fiscal year 2014 was $7.85 million, according to county finance director Scott Adkins. The jail actually spent $7.7 million and returned $120,000 to the cash-strapped State Board of Corrections, he said. The 2015 fiscal year budget is $7.56 million, which, after factoring in declining revenue and well above the projected 2.5 percent increase in costs to maintain the jail, has created the growing shortfall.

Jail revenues come from four sources: county taxes; the community corrections account, which is where work detail and other such monies are placed; the operations support fund from the Board of Corrections; and other, which includes federal boarding funds.

For fiscal year 2015, Penobscot County Jail’s revenue projections are $5.9 million in taxes, flat funded from last year; $774,000 from the community corrections account, flat funded; $470,000 in operations support funds from the state, a decrease of around 26 percent; and $350,000 for federal boarding, a decrease of more than 25 percent, according to Adkins.

To reduce costs, Penobscot County officials have worked to increase pretrial services, created partnerships with other jails to transport inmates in and out of crowded facilities, and “we continue to work with the courts and district attorneys in ways to speed up the process” and reduce inmates awaiting trial, Morton said.

At the end of last year Penobscot County also started a program for low-risk offenders who owe big fines that allows them to avoid jail by doing volunteer work for nonprofit organizations to pay off what they owe, Morton said.

“Even so, we continue to have a population that is high,” the sheriff said.

With what is happening in Augusta, Morton is hopeful jail oversight will revert back to the counties.

“I think that it’s important that the jail consolidation be reversed and the jails come back to full local county control with decisions made at a local level,” Morton said.

“And it needs to come back with a fair and reasonable financial approach,” the sheriff said. “We can’t just turn them back with no funds.”