Jail overages continue to increase

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(Posted May 15, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The amount of money Madison County pays in overage costs to the Tri County Regional Jail continues to increase. County Commissioner Mark Forrest attended a recent meeting at the jail and reported back to his fellow commissioners on May 14.

The jail serves Madison, Champaign and Union counties. The three counties split costs evenly, each paying $1.7 million per year to send prisoners to the jail for housing. The fee covers the use of 54 beds per county. The counties are charged additional fees if they exceed their 54-bed allotment.

Madison County regularly incurs overage costs, and the overages have been increasing from year to year: $57,420 in 2015, $149,310 in 2016, $231,300 in 2017, and $253,710 in 2018.

Forrest said jail usage is impacted, in part, by judges’ different philosophies on jail time for offenses.

Tri County Regional Jail’s base occupancy is 154 beds, but it can accommodate up to 213 beds. The jail has been running at a daily average of about 200 inmates. Forrest said he foresees a day when the jail will need to expand. The rough cost to do so, he said, is $100,000 per bed.

Street renaming proposal

Henry Comer, a London resident and member of London city council, proposed renaming Main Street, between Center Street and Park Avenue, to Mayor David G. Eades Way. Eades, who passed away last year, served as London’s mayor for 24 years.

“Under his leadership, the city improved and moved forward… This is a perpetual token of appreciation for his numerous contributions and dedication,” Comer said in his pitch to the commissioners.

Commissioner Dr. Tony Xenikis made a motion to move forward with the renaming, saying of Eades, “The man was a great man.” However, Commissioner Forrest expressed reservations.

Forrest agreed that Eades made great contributions to the city but stated he is not an advocate of renaming Main Street or any other major streets. County Commissioner David Hunter said he liked the renaming idea but would rather see it applied to a minor street or road.

Forrest also noted that the Ohio Revised Code that Comer referenced in his proposal allows for county commissioners to rename streets in unincorporated areas. The street section in Comer’s proposal lies in an incorporated area. Forrest also wondered if the street’s original name would remain in affect as the official address for businesses and residences.

Comer said the new name would be symbolic, leaving Main Street as the official name for addresses. He said he was unsure about who would have jurisdiction over renaming this particular street section–the county or the city. He asked if County Prosecutor Steve Pronai could review the Ohio Revised Code pertaining to the matter. He also said he could pursue the renaming idea at the city level, though it is a more involved process.

Domestic violence shelter financing

Financing is now in place for construction of a new county-run domestic violence shelter. At their May 13 meeting, the commissioners closed on a $300,000 bond with a five-year term and 3 percent interest rate. Madison Community Improvement Corp., the economic development arm of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, is serving as the project manager. The county treasurer purchased the bond; the commissioners will pay it back in five annual payments–the first four at approximately $35,000 each and the last at $196,215.

Grewell Road bridge project

The commissioners held a bid opening for the Grewell Road bridge rehabilitation project. The county engineer’s office estimated the cost to be $624,960. Ohio Bridge Corp. submitted the only bid. At $838,999, it is well over the estimate.

County Engineer Bryan Dhume said he will review the bid and return to the commissioners on May 21 with a recommendation. He will review the bid and determine if he needs to amend the project scope or increase the county’s request for funding.  Federal funding will cover all but 5 percent of the project cost. Work must begin after July 1 and finish up by Nov. 30.

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