Pulaski Co. Pressures Cities Over Jail Funding

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The ongoing squabble over funding one of Arkansas's busiest jails came to a head again Tuesday night.

The controversy is splitting Pulaski County cities -- some agreeing with the county's long-term proposal and others calling it a bad deal.

"Running a jail is a very expensive operation," said Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines. 

He says the purpose of the per day fees passed Tuesday by the quorum court is to make sure the jail is adequately funded despite "personality defferences" between cities and the county.

Villines says mayors North Little Rock, Maumelle and Sherwood have all agreed to multi-year deals that include a five percent increase in jail costs next year plus annual hikes tied to the consumer price index.

Mayors in Little Rock and Jacksonville are holding out.

"A five-year contract, if i sign it, that's $340,000," said Jacksonville mayor Gary Fletcher.  "I need to be buying a fire truck.  I need to buy police cars."

Fletcher says he'd be paying much more than Sherwood -- a similar sized city.

"I do want to go on the record and make them aware that there is a huge issue here," he said.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has also taken issue with how much his city would be charged under the long-term deal.  He called big first day fees contained in the per-day plan "egregious."

"He doesn't have any experience running a jail," Villines said of Stodola.  "If he wants, I'm willing to sign over, but he doesn't want to do that."

The current long-term deal between the cities and counties expires August 1st.
Per-day fees wouldn't likely kick in until the first of next year if a new long-term deal isn't reached.

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