Lewis County Fiscal Court met in regular session
last week with magistrates hearing the details of a feasibility study on the
Lewis County Detention Center.
The study, completed by CMW Architects in
Lexington, had been ordered by magistrates to receive various options on ways to
alleviate overcrowding at the facility. The Kentucky Department of Corrections
has been urging the county to take steps to remedy the situation and had stopped
sending state inmates to the facility.
The state pays the county to house state inmates,
the county uses the those funds to pay for the bond issue which paid for
renovations to the facility a few years ago. The county still owes about
$900,000 payable over the next nine years. Annual payments amount to about
Brad Black with CMW reviewed the study with
magistrates and presented four options which had been drawn up.
Lewis County Jailer Tim Underwood and Jeff Burton
with the Department of Corrections were also on hand to hear the
Black went over several of the studies completed
to produce information for the report. He noted that population projections call
for Lewis County to have a population decrease of about 2,000 residents by 2050.
He noted that surrounding counties are projected to increase slightly in
population during the same period.
He also noted that the female inmate population
is growing at a faster rate than the male population.
Black said that in interviewing local officials
for the study, the officials said they felt more beds in the detention center
He said there are more requirements for jails now
than when the facility was built, and then renovated, a few years ago.
The first option Black presented was for a
renovation project at the present location to bring it into compliance and will
allow state inmates to be held at the facility to bring revenue into the county.
The cost of the project is estimated at $880,000.
The option would result in losing between five
and seven beds at the facility, bringing the total number of beds down to about
The second option is for a totally new
constructed facility. The option would allow for the construction of a 152 bed
facility at a cost of about $8.7 million.
The third option is also for a newly constructed
300 bed facility at a projected cost of $13.25 million.
The fourth option presented by Black is to close
the current facility and pay other counties to house Lewis County inmates.
Black said the various costs associated with each
option include several variables, such as the percentage of beds filled at any
given time and whether or not certain trends in inmate populations continue at
current levels. He added that if a new facility option is chosen, it will be
approximately three years before the facility would be complete and ready to
Each of the options has projected annual expenses
over revenue of between $600,000 and $700,000 which would have to be paid by the
Burton addressed magistrates concerning the
matter as seen from the Department of Corrections.
Burton said the Lewis County facility is
antiquated in a lot of ways.
“Its size is OK for a county only jail, with
some renovations,” he said. “You need to determine what your local need
is,” he told magistrates.
Burton said medical and isolation cells are
needed at the facility and said that the current facility could become a
safety jail”. He said a life safety
jail could house county prisoners but not state prisoners, meaning the
county would not have income from the state.
County Attorney Clayton “Buddy” Lykins
Jr. expressed concern that if the county constructed a new facility there
would be no guarantee from the state on providing prisoners.
County Treasurer Kathy Dillow noted that as a
life safety jail, the county could accept county prisoners from other
counties and be paid by those counties for housing the prisoners. She added
the other counties would be responsible for any medical expenses associated
with their inmates. The cost of inmate medical care has been a growing
concern in recent years.
No action was taken on the matter which will
be reviewed extensively before any decision is made.
In other jail business last week, magistrates
adopted the county budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget totals
Jailer Tim Underwood told magistrates the
funds allocated in the county jail budget are about $150,000 to $200,000
short of the amount needed to operate the jail for the next year. The jail
budget was set at $829,400.
Underwood noted there are now five more
part-time deputies at the facility, higher food costs, aging equipment that
needs to be replaced, a leaking roof needing major repairs, and rising
“I understand what Tim’s saying,” said
Judge Executive Steve Applegate. “It’s just a situation of a revenue
the same problem in all counties,” said Magistrate Paul Bruce Swearingen.
“That’s all you hear when you go around the state.”
Magistrates approved two health insurance
options for county employees.
Donna Moore, a representative with the
Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), addressed magistrates and provided
several options for renewal. She noted a nine percent increase in premiums
and provided magistrates with options having different deductible and
Magistrates agreed to offer a similar plan to
the one currently in place for county workers. The county will pay 75
percent of the premium on the selected plan. Employees may choose a better
plan and pay the difference.
Magistrates approved the annual parking lot
lease agreement with Farmer’s Co-Op Insurance Company at $1,500. The lot
is located across the street from the courthouse. The agreement remains
unchanged from the current one. Magistrates also approved renewing the life
insurance plan for workers.
The appointment of Myrtie “Pud” Carpenter
as Chairman of the Firebrick VFD Board of Trustees was approved by
magistrates and Kenny Bare was hired as a full-time employee at the
detention center. He had been working part-time at the facility.
Magistrates approved reimbursing some excess
fees to the county clerk’s office to pay for unpaid overtime due employees
of the clerk’s office from 6-1-09 through 12-31-09. An auditor discovered
Magistrates approved the annual employee
cost-of-living wage increase of two percent for county employees and
approved the sheriff’s department 2009 tax settlement.
Approval was given for the judge executive to
authorize payment for NRCS contracted work on slides and embankment repairs.
Applegate said about $500,000 in federal funds are coming into the county to
pay for the various projects.
Magistrates approved acknowledgement of
receipt of annual budgets for several fire departments and other agencies
throughout the county as required.
County officials presented their monthly
reports and magistrates approved payment of bills and transfers before