Court approves solid waste hauler contracts, tables approving jail budget

Posted March 25, 2021 at 10:08 am

Clinton County Fiscal Court held its March meeting a day early this month due to Judge/Executive Ricky Craig having to be out of town due to a family medical issue the day of the regularly scheduled session.

The court met last Wednesday, March 17, with five of six magistrates on hand and several items of business on the agenda. Magistrate Jerry Lowhorn was unable to attend the meeting.

The court first acknowledged receiving the treasurer’s report and approved the monthly report by unanimous vote on a motion by magistrate Mickey Riddle.

They then approved three separate cash transfers totaling $62,000, all from the Occupational Tax Fund and all on separate votes.

On motions by magistrate Gary Ferguson the court approved a $25,000 transfer and a $2,000 transfer to the jail and 911 checking accounts, respectively, and on a motion by magistrate Terry Buster approved a $35,000 transfer to the ambulance checking account.

On a motion by magistrate Johnny Russell, the court approved claims and bills as presented.

Russell also made a motion to approve the Solid Waste Hauling Contract with the current haulers after assistant county attorney Gary Little told the court he had reviewed the contract with the haulers.

The motion to renew the current contract passed on a 4-1 vote with magistrates Russell, Riddle, Ferguson and Ray Marcum voting in favor and magistrate Terry Buster voting no.

Buster stated his reason for the no vote, saying he thought the franchise was supposed to be re-bid and stated the county needed to come up with the original contract that states such. He also said he felt all court members should be present before making the decision on renewing the Solid Waster Hauling contract.

Kelly White, a former Deputy Secretary of Corrections, made a presentation to the court about a program called e-jail, a management system where all inmate and jail information is kept up with at all times, including to other facilities where local inmates may be housed.

White explained that inmate information is managed electronically and tracks things as long as a person is incarcerated.

White said it was easier to keep up with things important in jail business using the e-jail system.

The representative said they have been in the jail business since 2001 and the system keeps track of all inmates’ processing, commissary use, medical issues, and even with prisoners who don’t get along from being housed in the same cells, at a cost of $225 per month ($3,600 a year).

White said keeping track of inmates could help the county reduce liability issues that may arise and it is a better way of keeping up with money that goes through the facility.

Clinton County Jailer Tracy Thurman seemed to approve of the e-jail system and has apparently received information about the program from the company.

Judge Craig asked White what the county could do if, within six months, they decided the program was not working for the local jail. White replied the county could opt out at any time and still keep all records the system had stored.

Magistrate Marcum also asked if the system could put inmate information on social media, with White answering yes.

The court took the presentation under advisement and took no official action last week, but may revisit the proposal at a later time.

After acknowledging a line item transfer, the court approved first reading of a $277,029.63 2020-21 budget amendment that includes unanticipated revenue from different sources, including CARES Act funds.

The next item of business discussed, that being the proposed 2021-22 jail budget, wound up being tabled when questions arose about the cost of operating the facility.

Judge/Executive Craig noted the proposed budget was the same as the current year. However, magistrate Marcum said, “If it’s the same, it went over budget by $80,000 last year.”

Marcum further noted that the same over budget amount is projected this year and said his concern was that they were going over budget every year.

Although Clinton County Jailer Thurman said there was little overtime put in at the jail, Clinton County Treasurer Cindy Thrasher did say the jail went over $65,000 in salaries projections last year.

When judge Craig called for a vote on the jail budget, no motion was made and the issue was tabled until further notice.

On a motion by magistrate Ferguson, the court voted unanimously to advertise for bids on surplus equipment and set the sale date for Saturday, April 17.

Jailer Thurman then gave the monthly jail report, turning over booking and housing fees to the county.

The half-hour meeting was then adjourned.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for Thursday, April 15, at 5 p.m.