Friday, July 11, 2008

Jail Per Diem

Tonight's paper had a front page article about a press conference that was held, yesterday, by the mayors of the six cities in Kent County. Their cities are charged for each day ("per diem") that someone, who they arrested for violating one of their local ordinances, is housed in the Kent County Correctional Facility (jail). The mayors want the "per diem" fee eliminated. They say that the townships are not charged for housing people in the jail so the cities shouldn't be either. They say that the County is "double-dipping".

Kent County's position is that the cities do not have to jail violators of their local ordinances - they can simply cite them with an "appearance" ticket. (Costs for those who violate state laws are paid for by the State of Michigan.) The cities are the recipients of fines that are collected for violating their local laws but those fines are not passed through to the County to offset the costs of incarceration. The cities do not have to bear the expense of having their own jail, since they can use the county facility for a daily rate. The amount of the "per diem" is the total daily cost of housing a prisoner in the Correctional Facility, reduced by a formula that partially offsets the contributions of the cities to the Correctional Facility millage. The County contends that there is no "double-dipping".

I wonder who thinks that we will move closer to an agreement on this issue when we negotiate by press conference? Why are the sides not continuing to meet to negotiate a settlement that neither is extatic about but both can accept?

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