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Mercer County Hires Lawyer To Look At Jail Agreement

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

Mercer County is hiring a lawyer to look into the financial arrangements at Boyle County Detention Center.

Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman announced Tuesday morning the county was hiring J. Robert Lyons Jr., a partner with Dinsmore and Shohl LLP of Lexington, to look into the interlocal agreement that splits expenses at BCDC between Boyle and Mercer Counties.

The issue is operational versus ownership costs. According to the interlocal agreement, Mercer is responsible for operational costs—the price of running the jail, for instance, feeding and clothing inmates—but Boyle is responsible for  ownership costs—the cost of upkeep of the facility, which also houses other Boyle County departments.

For years, Mercer and Boyle have been dividing  both operational and ownership costs. Lyons will be looking at whether Mercer has been overpaying.

The interlocal agreement was passed by the fiscal courts of both Mercer and Boyle Counties in 1996. It divides expenses 65-35 according to county population, with Mercer, the smaller county, paying the smaller share.

The problem is that over the last two decades, Mercer’s share of inmates at BCDC has steadily declined. According to numbers provided by Boyle, Mercer spent over $108,000 for BCDC operations during the 2016-17 fiscal year than was warranted by the amount of prisoners from Mercer.

In July of last year, both fiscal courts met to discuss the issue, but Boyle magistrates were not moved by Mercer’s complaints.

The next Mercer County Fiscal Court will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. at the courthouse.

To read more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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