If the bill passes, the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority will have to refund the excess funds to the counties.
However, the refund would result in a shortage in next year’s budget for the authority, which would cause an increase in the rate the authority charges counties to house the counties’ inmates.
The bill would call for the authority to transfer any funds that exceed 25 percent of operating costs. According to Authority Executive Director Terry Miller, that excess is currently $11.4 million. the Authority currently charges counties a fee of $47.53 per day for each inmate the county has in its facilities. That rate will raise to $48.25 in July.
Mingo currently pays $134,000 per month to the Jail Authority.
The Daily News spoke to Delegate Steve Kominar, (D-Mingo) who said he felt cautious about the bill.
“The authority has already factored in that $11.4 million into their budget for next year,” Kominar said. “They are planning to put that into the operating costs for the jails. This excess will come back to the counties one way or the other, through the refund or through keeping a low rate the counties are required to pay.”
Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden said he wants to save the county money, and if the Authority needs the excess funds to keep rates low, that’s fine with him.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with them keeping that money if that would keep our rate down,” Baisden said. Kominar said West Virginia has some of the lowest jail rates in the country.
Kominar, who is on the House Finance Committee, said he wants people to look at all aspects of the legislation before they form an opinion.
“I voted for it, but reluctantly,” Kominar said. “We need to look at this very, very closely, and evaluate it very carefully.”
The bill has passed the House and the Finance Committee and is scheduled to go to the Senate this week.