Sumter to charge for housing inmates

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

If you build it they will come, and once you build it make the cities pay for it.

That apparently is the idea of the Sumter County Commission now that the new Sumter County Jail is scheduled to be completed on March 29.

During the commission meeting Monday, the issue the housing of inmates for municipalities was discussed rather heatedly and voted on. Commissioner Ronnie Beard voted for the idea of making the towns of Sumter County that have inmates in the jail pay for their up keep. Under the terms of the old prison cities haven’t been paying.

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“Livingston, Cuba and York have been paying, so now we need to make the rest of the towns pay to help the county pay for this new jail,” Beard said.

The proposal means that any small town that currently has a form of government in Sumter County — such as Eppes, Geiger, Emelle and Gainesville — will now have to pay $30 a day for the housing and food of their inmates.

When the topic was brought up, the discussion was split between chairman Isaac Bonner and the rest of the commissioners. Bonner was upset with the motion made by Beard because he didn’t think it was right to make towns that don’t even have the money to pay for their own police protection to pay for having their inmates kept in the new jail.

When it came time to vote for the motion, Bonner chose to vote against it because most of these cities are in his district.

“Bonner was just trying to protect the cities in his district that’s all,” Beard said.

He also said that the $30 would be split into $20 for the commission for housing and $10 for the sheriff’s department for food.

In other business:

John clyde Riggs of the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission told the commission that Sumter County is one of six counties in Alabama that hasn’t started working on its Hazard Mitigation Plan for FEMA. He said that if the commission doesn’t start soon it wouldn’t be eligible for national funds in case of a natural disaster.

He asked the commission for $1,200 to start working on a planning grant for the plan.

Ashvin Parikh of the Sumter County Health Department talked to the commission about offering medical screening to the public of Livingston on March 23-24. The Livingston Lion’s Club sponsors the screening.