Article published October 17, 2011
Spartanburg County votes to approve fee for inmates from municipalitiesBy Trevor Anderson email@example.com
Spartanburg County Council on Monday voted in favor of a proposal that will allow the county to begin charging its cities and towns for inmates held at the Spartanburg County Detention Center on municipal offenses.
Council's vote authorizes the county administration to begin signing agreements with individual municipalities.
The new proposal comes more than three years after the last major push to make cities and towns pay for inmates.
"I thought I was going to get run out of town the first time I brought this up," said Councilman O'Neal Mintz, who led the last push in 2008 to enforce the jail fee. "It's never been about money. It's about making the municipalities responsible for their prisoners."
Since 1999, the county has had a contract in place with the city and other municipalities, which forces them to pay $45.65 per day for every municipal inmate housed for more than a week.
For political reasons, the contracts have never been enforced, as various council members feared enforcing the fees would harm the county's relationships with its municipalities.
The new proposal will keep the same $45.65 per day fee in place. It would also scrap the seven-day time frame in favor of a 10-day time frame.
Originally, the proposal allowed municipalities only 15 days from the day they receive their quarterly invoice to pay the county. Council changed that to 30 days on Monday due to the pay cycles of the municipalities. A 5 percent late fee will be assessed for each day the payment is late.
Leaders said the move has little to do with making money, rather they are hoping to reduce overcrowding at the jail by moving inmates through the system faster.
"This is not intended to be a moneymaker for Spartanburg County, but to hold the municipalities accountable for the inmates that they are incarcerating," said Maj. Neal Urch with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's office. "If they follow the proper procedure, and have them out within 10 days, there will no cost to the municipality at all."
Councilman David Britt thanked Mintz for leading the latest push to enforce the jail fee, calling him "the bulldog" and hailing his efforts to create a document that "works."
"We're not in business trying to make money off of this," Britt said. "We just want to get inmates out of that jail... It's a burden on every taxpayer in the county."