MOULTON — The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is tripling the daily fee it charges to house inmates for municipalities, but Moulton officials want more information about the effective date of the increase before agreeing to it.
The Moulton City Council on Monday tabled a vote on a jail use agreement with the Lawrence County Commission.
According to the agreement, jail fees for each Lawrence municipality will increase from $10 per day to $30 per day for each inmate housed in the county jail.
District 4 Councilwoman Cassandra Lee and District 5 Councilman Brent White asked why the agreement stated the fees became effective May 1 when the resolution was not brought to the council for a vote until Monday.
Mayor Roger Weatherwax said the city had received the resolution three months ago. He told the council the resolution was passed between the Sheriff’s Office, attorney Callie Waldrep and the county commissioners until amendments to the agreement could be settled.
“The only bill we’ve gotten with the $30 (fees) was for May to June,” Weatherwax said. “They only charged us $10 up until this bill we received for May and June.”
County Administrator Heather Dyar, who has warned commissioners of a potential $258,000 deficit to the county’s general fund in fiscal 2020, said every municipality in the county has signed an agreement except for the city of Moulton.
The county’s temporary accountant, Lynn Brown, told commissioners in a work session last month that she had tripled projections for the jail fees for fiscal 2019 based on the new agreement.
“I had budgeted $60,000 for jail and booking fees. We’ve collected $40,000,” Brown said. “Moulton is the biggest user of our jail, so until we can get a signed agreement from them and can start billing them an increased amount, we’re still going to be behind.”
Lee and White argued that the city should adhere to the fee increase, but the increase should not be implemented until Aug. 5.
“We need an order,” Lee said. “I don’t mind paying the increase, but there needs to be an order. It’s just thrown at us.”
District 2 Councilman Jason White also suggested the fee increase be covered in court costs paid by offenders.