Jail-payment talks will go on, mayor says
The city has made payments for boarding of prisoners, the mayor says.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City and Mahoning County officials may be at odds over payments for boarding inmates in the county jail, but Mayor Jay Williams says dialogue will continue and a resolution is possible.
"We're open-minded. We're willing to play a role in this," Williams said Friday.
Williams was responding to a Vindicator article about the city's objection to paying for the jail stays of offenders who have been charged by the city with violating state laws, not municipal ordinances.
The story was triggered by the city's addendum this week to the county's Criminal Justice Working Group report to U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. The working group said the city had been billed for its prisoners during the second half of 2005. The third-quarter bill was for $36,037; the city said it owed $3,035.
Similarly, the county sent a bill for $141,556 for the fourth quarter. Williams didn't know the amount the city agreed to pay, and Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello wasn't available to comment Friday.
The city sent both payments based on the law department's calculations, not the county's, Williams said.
City leaders want to address the jail's long-term issues in reaching a resolution with the county. "The answer isn't for the city to write a check," Williams said. It appears the county wants the city to remedy a situation that could have been avoided if commissioners had imposed a 0.5 percent sales tax, he added.
Voters in November 2004 defeated a sales tax issue that then expired, which cost the county millions of dollars in revenue and led to budget cutbacks that affected jail operations.
Judge Dowd has had jurisdiction over jail issues since inmates won a lawsuit in 2005, citing overcrowding and inadequate staffing as unconstitutional.