The Utah State Legislature completed its annual session on March 12 and the result may have an impact on the San Juan County jail. On March 16, County Commissioners met via conference call with other county commissioners around the state to discuss the issue.
The state pays counties in several categories to house inmates in county jails. The legislature cut the appropriation for one category of reimbursement by more than 40 percent, from $11.6 million to $6.5 million. The impact on the San Juan County jail will be roughly $75,000.
The final cut was much less than originally proposed. Heading into the last day of the session, the cut was expected to be from $11.6 to $2 million. However, a last day scramble restored $4.5 million of the funding.
Reimbursement for inmates classified as “Condition of Probation” prisoners received the cut. The daily reimbursement rate for these prisoners is roughly $27 a day, according to Commissioner Bruce Adams. This compares to the $72 to $75 a day it costs the state to house inmates in state facilities and the $42 to $45 a day that counties are generally reimbursed through a state contract.
Adams reports that the state legislature made no changes to the standard reimbursement contract.
The state Senate passed a resolution that may have helped the county proceed with a 240-bed expansion of the county jail. However, the resolution died in the House of Representatives. Adams explains that the county will not proceed with the proposed expansion of the jail without the support of the state legislature.
San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy attended the meeting personally in Salt Lake City. He will report the results at the March 23 meeting of the county commission.
In other business at the March 16 meeting of the County Commission:
• Commissioners approved the hiring of John Casement to be the Bluff / Mexican Hat transfer station attendant.
• Approval was given to purchase 40 replacement light fixtures for the county Administration Building in the amount of $2,609.09. Replacement parts will no longer be available for the old fixtures after 2010.
• Building permits were approved for a new residence in Spanish Valley, a new residence in La Sal, a radio tower in Spanish valley, a greenhouse in Blanding, and interior finish work for a home on Highway 95.