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Council approves reduction in jail fees for cities

Summary

Amendment modifies agreement with 24 cities that contract with county for jail services

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous support to a one-year reduction in jail fees for two dozen cities that contract with King County for jail services. The adopted legislation is an amendment to the contract extension between cities and King County for jail services adopted by the Council in April.

“There is no question that the King County Jail needs to become more competitive,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “This reduction of fees is precisely the kind of cooperation we need with cities to fully utilize capacity at the jail. I applaud the Executive and our regional partners for their proactive leadership.”

“I appreciate the tremendous amount of regional cooperation that went into these negotiations,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “As the County works to address long-term regional jail planning, it is critical that we continue to work with the cities.”

“Given our current budget climate, I am pleased to see the County working to develop more affordable rates for our jails in the most cost-effective manner.” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, Chair of the Council’s Budget & Fiscal Management Committee. “As elected leaders serving all the people of King County, we must work together with cities and with SCORE to best match our region’s jail resources with our communities’ public safety needs, and do so in a manner that is fiscally responsible.

In November 2009, the Council adopted an ordinance establishing a new contract between cities and the county to provide misdemeanant jail services beyond 2012. The contract has several new provisions, including a new methodology for establishing contract rates, a new jail fee structure, and an extension of the contract through 2015.
In April, the Council agreed to extend that contract through 2016. Since the approval of the new agreement, 24 cities have signed the new contract.

The legislation adopted by the Council today is an amendment to the contract extension. The amendment changes how jail fees would be calculated for the 2011 calendar year by modifying the existing methodology, resulting in lower rates for cities.

The adopted agreement requires resetting the jail service fees every two years using the agreed upon components of the jail’s costs of providing services and actual jail population numbers. For 2011, the methodology had the county base its calculations using 2009 actual jail costs divided by the 2009 actual jail population to derive each of the jail service fees, which resulted in a dramatic increase in fees to contract cities.

The Executive negotiated with the 24 cities that signed the new contract, reaching an agreement to develop a short-term modification to the 2011 fee-setting methodology that would result in lowering the 2011 increases to more acceptable level. Those modifications include the use of a three-year average of jail population data instead of one year. All of the modifications are expected to reduce the fee increases by between 40 percent and 60 percent when compared to the current methodology.


The adopted ordinance advances the Council’s priority of Local and Regional Cooperation.
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