Pulaski County approves an ordinance allowing per diem charges for housing prisoners at the county jail

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A central Arkansas mayor says he's being forced to pay what he says is an unfair share in funding the Pulaski County jail, and according to his statistics he's right. "I don't need to be subsidizing cities or the state, I need to pay my fair share," said Jacksonville mayor Gary Fletcher. "To me, our job is to right those things that are wrong and this is obviously wrong."

Fletcher does not want to sign a deal that's on the table outlining what his city will pay to house prisoners in the Pulaski County jail but he will likely do it anyway because, financially, it's the lesser of two evils.

"There's nobody that's a bad guy or good guy in this situation, it's just a bad situation," said Fletcher on Tuesday. "All the mayors have gotten together several times in the past year and we've talked about it. Of course, some that are getting pretty good deals are not saying too much, obviously - and I don't know that I blame them, quite honestly."

One of those getting what Fletcher considers a good deal is Sherwood mayor Virginia Hillman.

"Overall, we're pleased with it," said Hillman. "Everyone always wants to get the best deal possible but, personally, it's time to get some resolution and know what we're up against for the next 5 years."

The deal currently on the table increases the amount each city within the county will pay to send prisoners to the county jail.

"We certainly could not fund our own jail for that amount and we understand that," added Hillman. "We're comfortable overall with the proposal, we feel like it's probably time to move forward & execute it."

"I hate to pick on Sherwood but our cities are very, very similar in size," said Fletcher. "[Under the current proposed agreement] I'll be paying about $64,000 per year more than Sherwood and, yet, Sherwood is bigger than we are."

According to Fletcher, over the five-year period of the proposed agreement, Jacksonville will pay in the neighborhood of $340,000 dollars more than Sherwood despite the fact that Sherwood has a bigger population and sent close to 700 more prisoners to the county jail last year than Jacksonville did.

"There's nothing fair about," added Fletcher. "The bigger issue is the state and what they pay versus the cities and the state's never going to address it as long as the cities and counties keep trying to keep it together and kick the can down the road again… I'm just taking money from my citizens and serving my citizens to pay for a system that, really, the state needs to step up and pay more."

As of Tuesday Sherwood, Maumelle and North Little Rock all planed to send the deal to their city councils for approval. Jacksonville and Little Rock were both still deciding how they would to move forward.

Tuesday night, Pulaski County approved an ordinance saying if those cities don't sign a contract they will have to start paying per inmate per day in the county jail, which could more than double their current costs in the long run.

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