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Mercer, Boyle Counties Seem To Be Moving In Different Directions On Jail

The Boyle County Fiscal Court voted to continue using jail staff to transport Boyle inmates to and from jail, despite the recommendation of the Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee.

According to the Danville Advocate Messenger, the Boyle magistrates elected to retain a full-time transport officer at the Boyle County Detention Center. The Joint Jail Committee had recommended eliminating the position after hearing complaints from Mercer County—which has been paying to transport Boyle County inmates to court appearances through the jail budget on top of paying to transport Mercer inmates to and from court. In March, the joint jail committee decided to use the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office to transport Boyle inmates, but officials with the jail and the sheriff’s office objected. Keeping the transport officer would add up to $65,000 to the jail’s $5-million budget.

Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman said if Boyle wanted to keep the position, they should be prepared to pay for it.

“The transport costs should come out of the Boyle County fiscal budget, not the jail budget,” Dedman said.

At their last meeting, the Mercer County Fiscal Court voted to renegotiate the interlocal agreement which determines how jail costs are divided, saying they are paying more than their fair share. Mercer is waiting for Boyle’s answer, Dedman said.

The jail negotiations have led some to wonder about building a jail here, either alone or in partnership with Anderson County, which also has no jail. But it would be costly. Rowan County is spending $21-million on their new jail, which is designed to hold about 270 inmates.

“I don’t know if Anderson County or Mercer County could afford it,” Dedman said.

He also said using Mercer’s old jail, located near Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, would not be allowed by the state.

“They’d never let us do that,” said Dedman. When the interlocal agreement was approved over two decades ago, Boyle was already housing Mercer inmates.

While the debt from building the jail will be retired next year, the interlocal agreement is open ended and says neither side can terminate the partnership without the “prior written consent of the other party.” So both counties appear to be stuck with one another at least for the foreseeable future.

“We’re trying to work through this,” Dedman said. “Hopefully we can come to a resolution and the jail wouldn’t be the lead story in the newspaper every week.”

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

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