JAY – An agreement between counties for Delaware County prisoners to be housed in the Ottawa County jail was put on hold during a special meeting of the Delaware County commissioners Thursday afternoon.
Attorney Bill Reppart, Jr., representing the Delaware County commissioners, advised Commissioners Dave Kendrick and Bill Cornell, in the absence of Ken Crowder, to not sign the agreement until he felt comfortable with two separate issues.
Reppart said he is concerned about violating the state constitution, which does not allow a contact to be entered into for more than a one year period if the voters do not pass it by a 60% or three to five majority. If the vote wins by 60% or the 3/5, the contract can be extended to a 5-year contract, as stipulated in the contract presented from the Ottawa County sheriff to the Delaware County sheriff earlier for review.
In a monthly meeting held in October, members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority opted 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 a .1% sales tax increase to fund the proposal.
The other issue of concern to the commissioner’s attorney is a state statute that states 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, authorizing payment in an amount not to exceed $100 per month for the care and custody of each prisoner.
The wording, “not in a condition to be used” could be used for the overcrowding condition, in the attorney’s opinion.
The contract presented to the board of commissioners stipulates the amount of $32.50 per day per prisoner, amounting to an estimated $1000.00 per prisoner per month, which violates the state statute. 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.
Reppart told the board that he has a call into the Attorney General’s office to find an answer to his concerns and it was his recommendation that the contract is not signed until the questions are answered.
Commissioners decided to put the matter on the agenda for their meeting on Nov. 17 when they will again discuss the agreement with their counsel.