Wednesday, January 10, 2001
County may scuttle jail pact
By DAVE HAMRICK
Fayette County commissioners may stir the pot of controversy again this week, taking steps to start charging local cities per diem fees to house some county jail inmates.
During their business meeting Thursday at 7 p.m., commissioners will consider ending their 1994 agreement with the cities. The agreement guarantees space at the Fayette County Jail for the cities' prisoners, and county leaders interpret the language in the pact as a prohibition on charging daily fees.
Commissioners decided to take a new look at the agreement recently when they approved a plan to relieve overcrowding at the county jail by housing some of the county's prisoners at a facility in Union City, paying $45 a day for each prisoner.
A plan to pass that fee on to the cities for misdemeanor offenders sentenced by municipal courts was brought up short when city leaders reminded commissioners of the 1994 agreement.
The agreement requires all parties to give six months notice before terminating it, so any action taken by the commission won't be effective until this summer.
Any change is not likely to sit well with elected leaders in Fayetteville, Peachtree City and Tyrone, who insist that the cities' residents are paying more than enough in taxes and surcharges on court fines to support the prisoners they send to the county jail.
The disagreement is part of a larger dispute over tax equity, with city leaders claiming that their residents pay more in taxes to the county than they receive in services. County leaders say an imbalance in how local option sales taxes are divided by the county and cities makes up for any inequity.
County commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. at the County Administrative Complex, 140 Stonewall Ave., Fayetteville. All commission meetings are open to the public.