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Fiscal Court Still Talking Jail Break

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Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The negotiations between Mercer and Boyle Counties over the regional jail have reached another level, with the Boyle County Fiscal Court passing a new agreement to house Mercer inmates at the Boyle County Detention Center. The Boyle County Fiscal Court approved the agreement at their regular meeting on Oct. 24, according to the Danville Advocate-Messener.

Boyle agreed to the $65 per diem rate. The rate will be evaluated annually during the budget cycle. Mercer will be responsible for all medical and dental expenses that are beyond the contracted care. The agreement will go into effect on July 1, 2024.
At the Mercer County Fiscal Court’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 14, Judge-Executive Sarah Steele asked them to think on how to move forward. Representatives from both counties are supposed to discuss the agreement at a special working session scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m.

“I still have some reservations on some things,” Steele said Tuesday. “We’re still in the current joint jail contract.”

Officials noted that, under the new agreement, Mercer would have to either pay Boyle deputies $30 an hour to guard hospitalized inmates or assign their own sworn officers.

“We’re not paying people $30 an hour,” Steele said.

Magistrate Kevin Hicks, who has represented Mercer in negotiations with Boyle, said guards would be paid overtime. Many of the objections raised by Mercer magistrates were the same ones raised during a previous working session, including notifications from Boyle if the detention center if full and Mercer has to find somewhere else to house inmates.

But the biggest objection was the $65 per diem.

“This will be one of the highest rates in the state,” said County Attorney Ted Dean. Dean also said the contract needs to do a better job of specifying the notice period necessary to sever the agreement. Magistrate Hicks moved to the table taking any action on the agreement until they discussed it further with Boyle County. The motion passed unanimously.

The Mercer-Boye County Joint Jail Committee meets next on Monday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse.

On a suggestion from Dean, they also voted to do a request for proposals to see how much it would cost for minimum of 20 beds so Mercer could find something comparable.

“It seems they want to kick us out,” said Magistrate Tim Darland, who moved to approve the request for proposals. His motion passed unanimously.

“They want us to pay for a new jail,” Dean said.

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