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Court joins counties in suit against state policy

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By Sharon Graves

By SHARON GRAVES

The News-Democrat

Carroll County Fiscal Court passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 12, to join 119 counties in Kentucky that have filed a lawsuit against the state seeking changes in how the state pays for housing prisoners who face felony charges.

State prisoners are housed in the Carroll County Regional Detention Center, which is self-supporting and relies on income from the state, and fees paid by local inmates, to operate.

However, Judge Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said that the state does not begin to pay the costs for its prisoners until after sentencing. That means counties are forced to pay the $30-a-day cost for those prisoners for weeks, or even months. After that point, the Carroll facility receives money to house state inmates. Other counties, however, never receive any money for holding state prisoners until sentencing.

Counties should not have to foot the bill for state prisoners, said Carroll County Jailer Mike Humphrey.

The suit is intended “to focus on how severe the problem is,” Tomlinson said, and it “is based on what’s really fair.”

Bonding constables

Fiscal Court voted to begin paying bonds for each of the three constables in the county.

The state requires the positions be bonded at a minimum of $10,000, but gives no provision that the county must pay the bond.

Bonds, basically, insure the constables in the event they are hurt or hurt others on the job.

Tomlinson sent letters to the county’s three constables informing them of the bond requirement. The constables must secure bonds for themselves, but the court will reimburse any costs.

“I’m not sure we need the job [of constable], but if we pay bonds for other positions, then we need to pay it for them,” Magistrate Dean Miller said.

Constables are paid $410.75 per month; controversy over their need and use continues.

“The constable’s position is a constitutional office, and the only way to do away with the position is to amend the [state] constitution,” Tomlinson said.

Duties of the constables are defined by fiscal court. If constables are used to assist law enforcement, they are required to complete the same six-month training as police and sheriff’s deputies, Tomlinson said. “You would think that serving papers would be easy, but in this day and time, you never know what you’re going to walk in on.”

Roof bids. Assistant County Attorney Nick Marsh, standing in for County Attorney Jim Monk, opened bids for a new rubber roof for the Carroll County Detention Center and the William L. Wheeler Hall of Justice. Bids were received from four contractors. The court decided to table a decision until the magistrates and Tomlinson could review the bids.

Animal shelter. Recently Fiscal Court authorized a video camera be placed at the Carroll County Animal Shelter off Boone Road to deter people from dropping off animals when the shelter is closed.

“Since the camera has been installed, we’ve got some pictures,” Tomlinson said. “If we can identify the cars, what kind of charges can we bring,?”

Marsh said charges could include trespassing, cruelty to animals and, in some cases, possibly criminal charges.

“A lady dropped off a mother cat and a box of 10 kittens, and if we can catch these people, we intend to prosecute,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson said he wants to have a second video camera installed to help document violators’ license plates so that offenders could be more easily identified. Tomlinson said the second camera would cost $11,055.

Salt. With the cost of road salt set to double this year, from $48 per ton paid last year, the court authorized Tomlinson to enter into an agreement sponsored by the Kentucky Association of Counties to buy 600 tons of salt for $53.63 per ton.

The purchase would be made through a “reverse auction,” which is a method of purchasing items by having competing suppliers bid online, submtting the lowest prices at which they are willing to sell their goods and services.

In other business: Tomlinson issued an executive order accepting the Carroll County Emergency Operations Plan, which was approved and adopted July 15. State statute requires the development and maintenance of a local emergency operations plan, which outlines policies, procedures and guidelines for the management and coordination of all disaster and emergency responses in Carroll County and it’s cities.

The county has been notified that a land and water conservation grant the county applied for to place lights along the walking track at the Robert M. Westrick memorial park was denied.

Joan Moore, executive director of the Carroll County Community Development Corporation, applied for the grant. She said more than $5 million in requests were sought from the grant fund, which had only $347,000 available.

The county bought a small brick home near the county garage in Prestonville for $1 earlier this year. The house will be open soon for inspection by the public and then will be sold at auction.

“Maybe we can make a couple of dollars on it,” Tomlinson quipped. The process has been used previously by the county to generate income for the general fund.