County enters federal inmate contract

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Information meeting is 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24

By Ron Benningfield

LaRue County Fiscal Court has entered into a federal inmate contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Office that County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner says will more than offset a potential $750,000 reduction in state funding at the jail.
Turner said Kentucky will soon be moving about two thirds of state inmates out of county jails due to major changes being made in probation, parole and sentencing guidelines.  
“Since we normally house approximately 110 or so state inmates, our numbers would go down to about 45, meaning a loss of approximately $750,000 annually,” Turner told magistrates meeting at the courthouse in Hodgenville Feb. 8.  
“Our sheriff takes in approximately $800,000 annually, so that loss would have been practically as much as we receive in property taxes in a year,” Turner added.  
Knowing this loss was forthcoming, the judge said he and Joey Stanton, federal inmate coordinator, have been working since last summer on acquiring a federal contract, which he added is hard to obtain.
“Only five or six jails in Kentucky have a federal contract,” the judge said. “Ours would have been impossible to get if it were not for the working relationship that Joey has had with the U.S. Marshal’s office.”
Terms of the federal contract are much better than those with the state, according to Turner.  
“The state pays us $29 per inmate per day, plus $1.91 reimbursement for any medical costs,” he said, adding that if an inmate were required to have a $5,000 medical test, the county would have to foot the bill for the amount over $1.91 unless the inmate stayed at the facility more than a day. He said the state also does not reimburse guard costs for transport of inmates nor for transportation expenses.
The federal contract will pay $38 per day for inmates plus 100 percent of all medical, guard duty ($18/hour) and transportation (52 cents per mile) costs.
Those federal inmates housed in Hodgenville will be “lower level classification,” such as those jailed for offenses such as Medicaid, income tax, or food stamp fraud and counterfeiting.
Turner expects the contract to bring in approximately $950,000 for housing, plus $250,000 for guard duty, mileage and other related costs.
“Joey is now working on a contract for transport of inmates beyond just our facility needs which has the potential to bring in an additional $250,000 annually,” Turner said.
The judge said that the jail is adding security with a lockable mesh screen in the facility’s vestibule.
As to where the state prisoners will go who are being taken from the jail, Turner said most – those with six or fewer months to serve – will be paroled.
In other business, Clyde Veirs, county road supervisor, said the county has between 30 and 40 tons of salt in reserve.
James Martin Tharp, chairman of the LaRue County Conservation District’s board of supervisors, updated the court on the district’s activities.
“We know cuts are coming at the state level, and we’ve been cutting corners, with all our supervisors serving without a daily per diem pay that saves $2,000 per year,” Tharp told magistrates.  
Giving them a copy of the district’s annual report, he pointed to a $2,327,390 figure.
“That’s what the conservation district has helped to contribute to this community in the last 10 years,” Tharp said. “For the $25,500 yearly investment by you, you’re getting more than $2 million back.”
Turner told Tharp he wouldn’t know what the next contribution to the district would be until after the General Assembly passes a budget.  
“We should know sometime in May,” predicted Turner.
The court concurred with Planning and Zoning’s approval of rezoning 7.5 acres at 1965 Oak Hill Road, belonging to Nancy Banks, from A-1 to R-1A.