PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - 2/2/2018
Wood County's largest cities are studying a proposal that the county charge a fee to each of them for housing prisoners in its holding center.
The county commission Thursday sent a letter requesting the $30 fee to the cities of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown.
Mayor Randy Rapp says the proposal was discussed Thursday night at a special city council budget meeting.
."For us to say, 'we'll do it ourselves', we have to dedicate another officer just to transport prisoners, and we don't want to do that," Rapp said Friday. "So at this point, that seems to be the most responsible path for us to do."
Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce is concerned whether such a fee can be charged under the city's laws.
"That could create some long-term liabilities, and, quite frankly, we have enough services we're required to pay for," Joyce said. "But it's certainly something I'm willing to discuss with council, and see what we might be able to do to help."
Mayor Joyce estimates, based in the number of city prisoners sent the holding center in 2017, the fee would cost the city $30,000.
Mayor Rapp says it would cost Vienna an estimated $3300..
The Wood County Commission is asking city leaders to pitch in to help maintain staff at the county's inmate holding center.
Commissioners are asking Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown city leaders to agree to pay a $30 intake fee for each prisoner their officers bring to their holding center.
Commission President Blair Couch says that would generate enough money to help the center run more efficiently.
Couch says it takes about 15 people to keep the center open around the clock.
He says this is a service other counties in the state do not provide.
"If we totaled it up, if all the municipalities, State Police, would fund that, we would generate about $30,000," Couch said Thursday. "And that's enough to look at each of the home confinement, not the home confinement, the confinement operations looking at $2,000, $2,500 pay increase. And that type of sustaining effort is what we need."
Couch says six of the county's confinement officers have left to take higher-paying jobs during the past year. That, he says, turns into a major expense because of all the training that's required.