Little Rock, Arkansas -
The Pulaski County Quorum Court approved an ordinance allowing the Pulaski County Judge to sign contracts with each of the county's five largest cities to fund the local jail.
The five cities were initially part of an inter-local agreement signed about two decades ago. That expired on August 1, 2014.
Maumelle, Sherwood and North Little Rock are reportedly already on board with the agreed upon new funding. Jacksonville and Little Rock have not agreed to the new contracts, yet.
According to Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher, he believes the funding amounts required by each city or not equitable across the board. He points to Sherwood simply for comparison. When the inter-local agreement was initially signed, Jacksonville was the larger city. Since then, Sherwood has outpaced its population, but Jacksonville is still slated to contribute more than its neighbor under the new contract.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has questioned the numbers used in the county's budget to argue for more funding, and both mayors have said that the state should kick in extra contributions for holding its prisoners awaiting transfer to the Arkansas Department of Correction.
According to Buddy Villines, city input was sought months ago with little feedback from the cities. As for the state, he doesn't believe a significant funding increase can be found in that area.
"In January, we provided information on the costs to operate the jail. In March, we provided a draft of the various ways it could be funded, per capita or per prisoner or what have you. But the silence was deafening," Villines said. "As for funding from the state, we've tried to advocate for that and haven't gotten very far. There is a clause in the contract that should that funding increase signficantly the terms of these contracts can be altered."
Fletcher said he has submitted a counter proposal to the Quorum Court, but Villines believes the time for negotiating has passed.
"There are no more alternatives," Villines said. "If a contract isn't signed by the beginning of the year then Jacksonville and Little Rock's detainees will be subject to the daily per diem rate outlined."
Villines said that rate could result in significantly higher costs for the cities in comparison to the new contract that has been proposed.
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