Mercer and Boyle Counties are still looking to make a break from the Boyle County Detention Center. However, the two counties are still negotiating on what that break will look like, and whether it will be a clean break or something more complicated.
Both counties have to agree to end the interlocal agreement, which was ratified in 1996 and has become a point of contention between the two counties over the years. In 2018, the two counties renegotiated the agreement to lower the floor on what Mercer paid in jail expenses. As of July 1, Mercer County pays 35 percent of jail expenses based on the county’s percentage of the inmate population.
One point of contention: Boyle wants Mercer to sign a contract allowing Boyle to continue housing Mercer’s prisoners or they won’t vote to end the contract.
“I’m never going to agree to dissolve unless you agree to be renters,” said Boyle County Attorney Chris Herron at last week’s Mercer-Boyle County Joint Jail Committee meeting.
“We’re going to have to come with some agreement,” Herron said. “Otherwise we keep it like it is. ”
“We’ll talk about that,” said Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean.
Magistrates from the fiscal courts of both counties have met twice. But they will not be meeting in September, it was revealed at the joint jail committee meeting.
“We’re still in the preliminary phase,” Judge-Executive Sarah Steele said. But she added, “We’re not just walking away.”
Reached for comment on Tuesday, Steele said “There are a lot of positives,” to working with Boyle County. She said Boyle officials are currently formulating an agreement which they will present to Mercer.
“Hopefully we’ll know more in the next couple of months,” she said.