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Dallas weighs jailing options
by Adam Elrod
aelrod@neighbornewspapers.com
February 13, 2013 09:12 AM | 1336 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paulding County will stop taking Dallas city inmates on March 15 if the two governments are unable to agree on a new payment plan for housing the prisoners, the sheriff said last week.

The county issued a letter to the city Jan. 18 announcing the demand and members discussed it at the Dallas City Council meeting Feb. 4.

The letter notified them the county wants to charge $45 a day per city inmate — which does not include medical costs — to cover the costs of jailing Dallas’ inmates from municipal court.

“As a matter of courtesy, Paulding County has graciously housed city inmates on behalf of the cities since the previous change to Georgia law,” according to the letter to Mayor Boyd Austin and signed by Commission Chairman David Austin and Sheriff Gary Gulledge.

In 2004 the Georgia General Assembly changed state law to exclude sheriffs from being required to house city inmates, who are convicted of crimes through municipal courts.

Austin and Gulledge stated the county’s cost was $129,735 for housing Dallas’ inmates in 2012 but it only received $13,656 in surcharges from fines paid in Dallas Municipal Court.

“Regrettably, given current tax revenues resulting from the decrease in the local tax digest, the county is no longer in a position to provide the service free of charge to your cities which it has done for the past eight years,” the letter stated.

Gulledge said $45 is the cost the county pays to house each city inmate daily.

“It’s going to be an ongoing fight as budgets get tightened,” he said.

If an intergovernmental agreement is not reached by March 15 the county will continue to house current prisoners, but will not take any more from Dallas, Gulledge said.

“These are city prisoners, not mine,” he said.

Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin said, in the past, the city has paid a 10 percent fine add-on fee to the county.

City residents also already pay both city and county property taxes. The new charges would unfairly penalize city residents because they would have to pay higher city taxes needed to pay the higher jail fee, he said.

Boyd Austin said Dallas has had the previous agreement with other sheriffs and commissioners for 18 years and never had a problem.

“It also fails to recognize the amount the cities pay for their police forces and municipal courts — services Paulding County cannot or will not provide,” the mayor said in an email.

Dallas is currently weighing its options, Boyd Austin said.

He said there is a possibility of reaching an agreement, but he will protect the citizens of Dallas from higher taxes.

“I believe in law and order, if a person has been found guilty of a crime, and sentenced to serve time, they should do so,” he said.

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