By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Dec. 18, 2013 — Talk of a regional jail once again sparked debate during Tuesday morning’s regular meeting of Carter Fiscal Court.
Magistrate Brad Brammell introduced ordinance No. 752 which would repeal both ordinances pertaining to the Northeast Regional Jail Authority which were passed by the Fiscal Court in 2012.
While Fiscal Court clerk Debbie Johnston was reading the ordinance, however, Judge-Executive Charles Wallace interrupted with objections about language contained in the document.
“This says that the Fiscal Court has determined that it’s in the best interest of the county to stop this. They would have to vote on that first,” said Wallace.
Magistrate Clifford Roe then made a motion to table the ordinance until attorney Richard “Sonny” Martin could review the language.
Martin is representing the Fiscal Court in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the regional jail authority.
That suit was filed against the court by County Attorney Patrick Flannery and private citizen Renee Stewart.
“They can bring this up again if they change that one part of the language,” Wallace added as the discussion concluded.
Brammell introduced the ordinance at the behest of Jailer R.W. Boggs, who presented quarterly financial information about the jail to the Fiscal Court earlier in the meeting.
According to figures Boggs presented, the jail is bringing in more revenue because of the increased rate for federal inmates.
His figures show that the jail billed $89,831.12 for the housing of federal prisoners in November, significantly more than the average figures of $69,000-$71,000 that were being billed before.
Magistrate Mary Ellen Greenhill was a key figure in the rate negotiations last April and finalized a deal with the federal government that sees Carter County receive $54 a day for federal prisoners.
The previous rate was $44 a day to house those inmates.
Roe, however, rebuffed any notion of revising the regional jail issue in light of the increased revenue.
“We can’t talk about the regional jail because it’s under litigation,” said Roe.
Roe, Greenhill and Clarence “Sonny” Fankell voted in favor of tabling the issue. Brammell voted against the motion and Brandon Burton abstained.
In other business, the Fiscal Court unanimously approved the 2014 fiscal year budgets for both the sheriff’s department and the county clerk’s office.
Carter Fiscal Court will hold its next regular meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Room 221 of the county courthouse.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.