County, city writing on jail contract

Published 9:47 pm Friday, August 27, 2010

Officials for Decatur County and the City of Bainbridge have been corresponding by hand-delivered letters concerning the county’s proposal to resume housing of the city’s misdemeanor inmates in the Decatur County Jail.

In July, the Bainbridge City Council voted 5-1 to begin housing city inmates in the Pelham City Jail, in lieu of renewing a previous contract with the county.

One of the issues was the two proposals’ price: Pelham offered to charge a fee of $30 per inmate, per day, whereas Decatur County offered a fee of $38 per inmate, per day, based on a 1995 per inmate cost of $24, adjusted for inflation.

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On July 20, County Board of Commissioners Chairman Earl Perry sent a letter on behalf of county officials concerning the contract. According to the county, the actual per inmate cost per day was $50.25 during the past fiscal year, although the city was only being charged a rate of $37.30. Based on that figure, the county was subsidizing approximately one-third of the actual cost of inmate housing.

Perry suggested that based on the fact that the city collects in excess of $500,000 in court fines annually, it would appear that the city should be able to pay the county’s proposed rate. According to county commissioners interpretation of the original 1993 jail contract, the members of the committee that planned the county jail’s construction intended for city inmates to be housed there. Perry asked that city leaders consider their intent.

On Friday afternoon, Perry said he and County Administrator Tom Patton had received a letter from Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds concerning the jail contract. Although Perry described the letter as “cordial,” he said he did not feel at liberty to comment before discussing the matter further with Patton, who was unavailable late Friday afternoon. Reynolds also said he did not want to comment before county officials had a chance to formally respond.

At the City Council’s Aug. 17 meeting, City Manager Chris Hobby and Public Safety Major Walter Landrum, who helps oversee the city’s Municipal Court function, both expressed satisfaction with both the cost and efficiency of the city’s current contract with Pelham. However, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for the city government to send money outside of the local economy unnecessarily.

Other Business

In other business, county commissioners:

Approved, by general consent, to hold a public hearing after its regular meeting on Sept. 14 to discuss the criteria for making improvements to county roads using future Georgia Department of Transportation funding from a proposed, special one-cent sales tax for transportation. The program has been approved by the state legislature but will be voted on by citizens in a referendum to be held in Summer 2012. Perry said defining clear priorities for county road improvements will be especially important to ensure the county receives its fair share of any potential funds from the tax, if it is approved.

Approved, by unanimous vote, minimum health and safety standards for pre-owned, manufactured homes, as reported on in the Wednesday, Aug. 25, issue of The Post-Searchlight.

Approved, by unanimous vote, an intergovernmental agreement for payment of public safety/E-911 radio consulting services with RCC Consultants of Woodbridge, N.J. Decatur and Grady counties and their municipalities, including Bainbridge and Cairo, will enter into an agreement with RCC for the price of $111,744. RCC will research the best options for upgrading the counties’ shared E-911 system and public safety radio systems.

Approved, by unanimous vote, an intergovernmental agreement with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office concerning custody and maintenance of barcode readers used to implement express polling for local elections. County Board of Elections and Registration Chairman Ray Chambers provided an explanation of the agreement and the various types of electronic devices used by local elections officials.

Acknowledged, by unanimous vote, receipt of the county government’s financial reports for July 2010.