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— When Mayor Fred Jacks of Bethel Heights addressed the Benton County Quorum Court on Thursday night, he did so as a mayor and a citizen.

As a mayor, Jacks requested that justices of the peace delay increasing jail fees charged to cities from $32.50 per inmate per day to $40 until Jan. 1, 2010, after the cities have had time to adjust their budgets.

As a citizen and taxpayer in the county, Jacks asked JPs to increase the jail fees in a way that will cover all of the county’s expenses for housing inmates placed in the county jail by the cities.

“If you could wait to implement this until Jan. 1, I would appreciate it as a mayor. If you can raise it to cost, I would appreciate it as a citizen of Benton County,” Jacks said.

Justice of the Peace Bobby Hubbard rallied behind increasing the jail fees prior to Jan. 1, saying the adjustments cities would need to make to their budgets would be minuscule.

“I believe this was going to effect Springdale $65 per month. I am not so sure how much of a budget adjustment they would need to go through,” Hubbard said. “Whenyou break it down by month, it is just such a little impact.”

Justice Frank Winscott agreed with Hubbard and lobbied to have the ordinance passed before year’s end.

Other justices disagreed and suggested that in the spirit of fairness, the increased jail fines not go into effect until the new fiscal year begins in January.

“In all fairness to the cities and the budgeting process, (the cities) need due time to make adjustments,” Justice Dan Douglas said. “We do not like it when we have someone come in and change things on us before we have time to budget it in.”

So far in 2009, it is costing the county $43.02 to house each inmate per day. Members of the county’s Finance Committee voted to raise the jail fees to $40 per day rather than $43.02 because historically, costs decrease at the end of the year, Hubbard said.

“That is the best guess we can come up with right now for the end-of-the-year costs,” Hubbard said.

When the ordinance was put to a vote, 12 members of the Quorum Court voted to table the ordinance until next month, ensuring that the increased fees would not take effect until Jan. 1. Hubbard voted against tabling the motion.

Sports, Pages 8 on 10/07/2009

Print Headline: Jail fees to go up Jan. 1

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