By Jordan Cohen
The city is asking Trumbull County to take over housing its prisoners so it can convert the Niles jail into an eight-hour holding facility only.
“This arrangement would save Niles thousands of dollars every year,” said police Chief Robert Hinton who researched the proposal and presented it at council’s Wednesday session.
Hinton said the exact savings is still being calculated.Under Hinton’s plan, prisoners in the city jail could be held only up to eight hours and then would be housed in Trumbull County jail. The police chief said the city would pay the county a fee based on the number of prisoners it sends.
The proposal has to be approved by county commissioners, who have already agreed to a similar plan to house prisoners from Warren.
“There would be a trial period where if either side decides it doesn’t like the proposal, they can opt out,” said Terry Dull, Niles law director.
Hinton and Dull said they are optimistic an agreement can be reached promptly because of the apparent success of the county’s arrangement with Warren.
City council Wednesday authorized Mayor Ralph Infante to begin negotiations with county commissioners.
Niles is the only city in the county operating a full-time jail.
Meanwhile, council again heard complaints about heavy-basement flooding on Washington Street after the rainfall early Wednesday.
“My basement has flooded eight times in eight years,” said Kay Madigan, a Washington Street resident. “One-third of my house is unusable.”
Madigan said the latest downpour left 10 inches of water in her basement.
Flooding on Washington has been an ongoing problem for the city. Development Director Mark Hess said he is still trying to find out whether the sanitary sewer or storm sewer is responsible for the backups.
“We don’t know how far downstream we have to go or whether a sewer will have to be replaced or enlarged,” Hess said.
Hess told Madigan the city has placed a priority on alleviating the flooding conditions. “We should be able to identify what’s wrong in six to eight weeks,” he said.
“By spring, we should have something done.”
“You can see why I’m getting frustrated,” Madigan added.