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County to discuss inmate deal with Bourbon Co.

A measure to house Clark County jail inmates in Bourbon County is up for discussion Thursday evening, to the surprise of many including the jailer.

“No sir. They had not discussed it with me,” Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle said Wednesday. “They had no conversations with me.”

The published agenda for the July 23 Clark County Fiscal Court meeting includes an item to consider an order for an agreement with Bourbon County to house prisoners.

Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said the agreement would be for future use, if needed, and would be more cost efficient for the county. There are no plans to move the prisoners immediately, he said.

“It seems to me if there are other counties willing to take prisoners for $35 a day, It’s something we’ll need (to look at). This is so we can have an option if we need it in the future,” Pace said.

Pace said the jail has gone significantly over budget during the previous fiscal year, and the county has continued to make transfers to keep the jail operating.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a number of changes along with a loss of revenue after the state removed its prisoners and arrests have been reduced to avoid spreading the virus. Jail populations are down as well.

On Wednesday, Doyle said the jail housed 136 prisoners: 52 from Clark County and 84 state prisoners. The jail has housed state felony prisoners for several years to generate revenue for the facility.

Doyle said the county led to Bath County ending its agreement with Clark County to house its prisoners. Doyle said the agreement with Bath County had been in place for four years.

“They got involved and talked to Bath County about an agreement,” Doyle said. “Five days after they talked to them, (Bath County) jerked every inmate out of there.”

Earlier this year, Doyle laid off half of the deputy jailers as populations and revenue dropped.

Housing the prisoners elsewhere has not been discussed in recent Fiscal Court meetings.

Pace said jail expenses should be going down with smaller populations, which other counties have seen. Paying another county $35 a day for 60 county prisoners, would be far less than $1 million. Pace said Doyle said previously he was anticipating up to a $2 million loss.

“I’m confident if the jailer is motivated to do so, he can run the facility in an efficient manner,” Pace said.”We can’t take a $2 million loss and at the jail and COVID too.”

According to a chart on Doyle’s Facebook page, the jail was projecting $2.2 million in operations for fiscal year 2021 and no contract revenue, which required a $2.5 million contribution from taxpayer funds. In 2019, the jail had $3.48 million in operations and $2.35 million in revenue and $351,253 in net taxpayer contribution.

Doyle said the matter is politically motivated.

“Let’s go with political sabotage,” Doyle said. “Political sabotage is all it is.”

Doyle said the Fiscal Court has altered the last two budgets submitted and submitted their own smaller budget.

Pace denied the sabotage claim.

“I don’t think it’s accurate to be political sabotage on the part of the county,” he said. “If something isn’t done, it could sabotage the county budget.”

Closing the jail would not eliminate the jailer position, as it is a constitutional office. Doyle said there would still be a need for deputy jailers to transport prisoners to Clark County for court appearances.

Doyle said the expenses could be higher with additional overtime for deputies and more vehicles needed for prisoner transports.

“All it will do is increase the cost to the taxpayers,” Doyle said. “You’ll still have the same amount of deputies and holding cells. You’ll have more vehicles.

“They’re trying to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

 

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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