JAY – Delaware County Commissioners voted to approve an inter-county agreement with Ottawa County in hopes of alleviating the overcrowding issue at the Delaware County Jail during a special meeting Thursday morning.
The tentative agreement will now be presented to the Ottawa County Commissioners for their approval.
Once both sets of commissioners have approved the agreement, voters will be asked to pass a proposed .1 percent sales tax increase, which will pay for an overflow of Delaware County prisoners to be housed at the Ottawa County Jail.
In the revised contract approved by the commissioners on Thursday, there will be a “funding out clause” which will apply should the sales tax revenue collected be insufficient to pay the $32.50 per prisoner for the 20 beds that will be contracted to Delaware County. The agreement states that, should this happen, Delaware County can give Ottawa County a 30-day notice allowing Delaware County to opt out of the agreement.
In their monthly meeting held in October, members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority chose to enter into a contract with Ottawa County for 20 beds in their facility to house Delaware County prisoners, and call an election to pass the .1 percent sales tax increase to fund the proposal.
One issue of concern to the commissioner’s attorney, Bill Reppart, Jr., is a state statute that stipulates that in counties where the “county jail is not in a condition to be used,” the county commissioners are authorized and empowered to enter into a contract with the county commissioners of an adjoining county for the use of that county’s jail facilities. In that statute, the payment is not to exceed $100 per month for the care and custody of each prisoner.
Since the contract presented to the board of commissioners will be in the amount of $32.50 per day per prisoner, amounting to an estimated $1000.00 per prisoner per month, Reppart said this could technically violate the state statute.
However, Reppart said that according to information from the Attorney General’s office, this state statute has never been tested or issued on. The term “county jail is not in a condition to be used” doesn’t apply to the present jail, Reppart added.
The contract also states that the Ottawa County facility will provide beds for 20 medium or minimum security male offenders and the beds will be contracted whether they are filled or not.
The final matter of concern to Delaware County Sheriff Jay Blackfox was a stipulation that Delaware County would pay for personal hygiene items and stationery for Delaware County prisoners.
Blackfox said he felt that the $32.50 should include those items and a phone call to the Sheriff of Ottawa County resulted in the stipulation being changed. Ottawa County would now provide those items.
Stricken also was the clause that Delaware County would be responsible for any damage to the Ottawa County jail created by Delaware County prisoners. Ottawa County will take responsibility for any damage done by Delaware County prisoners.