MANSFIELD — Richland County commissioner’s chairman Ed Olson said Tuesday that Mansfield officials do not need to worry about any cost increase in the jail contract affecting this year’s budget.
He said the 20-year contract gives the county and city the rest of the year to discuss cost figures prepared by a consultant, and should allow time for a “meeting of the minds.”
“If you read the contract, you do a true up of the charge every five years,” Olson said. “Since the jail did not open until 2008, then the change is not due until 2013.”
Olson made the comment after commissioners had a conference call with Bob Fink of Maximus, a Canton-based financial consulting firm, to answer questions about a report he completed in May. The city and county agreed in January to have Maximus review jail operations and determine the actual cost per day for the 80 beds the city uses under contract.
The report showed the cost to operate the jail in 2011 was $2.4 million, or $67.39 per bed per day. The city has been paying about $33 per bed per day, plus a share to cover construction costs, to add up to $1.4 million per year during the first five years of the contract.
Fink said he came up with the new figure by determining the total cost for operating the jail and adding the prorated cost for the time employees in the sheriff’s law enforcement division spend working on jail-related activities. He then multiplied the average number of prisoners per day, including the city’s 80 beds, by 365 and divided that figure into the operating cost to come up with the cost per bed, per day.
“There are a number of administrators who are paid out of the law enforcement division whose activities benefit both the law enforcement side and the jail side,” Fink said. “Even if you take a straight-up figure on the jail budget and divide it by the average daily use, you still come up with at least a $60 per bed, per day rate.”
Olson cautioned the $67.37 per day figure could change. He said the contract allows adjusting the figure up or down depending on whether the city underpaid or overpaid the previous five years.
Olson said the amount the city has been paying was determined quickly because the city asked to be part of the jail project near the end of the planning process.
“From day one the $33 per day figure was too low, but the county acted in good faith and felt we came as close as possible,” he said.
Jail administrator Capt. Joe Massie said initial figures did not include costs such as utilities, which could not be determined until after the jail opened. Massie took part in the phone conference with chief deputy Maj. Dale Fortney.
Commissioner Tim Wert said the initial cost figures also were based on the county having an 83-bed community alternative corrections center to take the burden off the jail. Commissioner Gary Utt said another issue that had not been discussed in detail is the money the city saved on extra officers when the city jail was closed.
Fink said it will take about two weeks to determine the cost of any over or under payment once he receives actual cost figures from Massie. He agreed to contact the city to go over any questions about his report.
Earlier this month, Mansfield City Council authorized city Law Director Jon Spon to negotiate the cost issue.
Olson said he recently had an informal discussion with Spon about the contract and the cost report.
In other business Tuesday:
» Commissioners received a status report from sanitary engineer Steve Risser and wastewater director Rick Freeman on the Harp wastewater plant closing. They said they will present cost estimates and options for repairing lateral lines to individual homes at a public meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Mifflin Fire Station on Ohio 430.
» Commissioners talked with human resources administrator Kelly Cicolani about changes in how the county provides health insurance for employees placed on non-pay status. She recommended the county pay only for those employees eligible under the federal family leave law.
» The county authorized bidding on printing and trash removal contracts and extended the printing contract with Express Publishing, of Mansfield, for 30 days.