• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Court approves contract promising more revenue for federal prisoners

Much of Woodford Fiscal Court’s meeting Tuesday was devoted to a discussion about whether to hire a company to negotiate higher pay to the Woodford County Detention Center for federal prisoners. In the end, a multi-year contract with The Summerill Group, a company with the motto “federal solutions for local jails,” was unanimously approved. Joe Summerill said his firm is presently employed by five Kentucky counties seeking higher per diem and transportation reimbursements from the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He said the Woodford Detention Center was receiving $36 per day for housing the prisoners, a rate set in 1996. His firm is negotiating deals on behalf of 100 clients in 29 states, he said. He said the higher rate of $54 his firm would negotiate would bring in an additional $382,000 annually, based on an average of 50 federal prisoners per day. In response to a question from County Attorney Alan George, Summerill said a deal that will be concluded next week will bring in $52 per day to the Franklin County Detention Center. Magistrate Mary Ann Gill (Dist. 7) said she’d received the first contract proposal last week, a second earlier in the day and asked about differences in the offers. Summerill said the only change was a drop in the proposed fee to the county – $42,000, rather than $55,000. Magistrate Kelly Carl said the much higher revenue made the offer seem like a good investment. Gill noted that the fee was not budgeted, to which Judge-Executive James Kay agreed, then added that the increased revenue wasn’t budgeted, either. Gill asked about the turnaround time for the higher fee. Jailer Michele Rankin said the U.S. Marshal’s Service typically pays its bills in about 30 days. In response to a question about how long federal prisoners typically stay, Rankin and Summerill said the length was longer due to backups in the judicial system related to COVID-19. Rankin said some stay for up to a year-and-a-half. In response to a question from Magistrate Liles Taylor (Dist. 1), Treasurer Sabra Garmon said the county pays about half of the jail’s $2.8 million annual budget. Summerill said even with the higher rate his firm would negotiate, the county jail would still be very competitive with other jails in the region. George said he knows the county attorneys in the five counties the firm is representing and that the program seemed to be working well in those places. He then joked about an earlier statement from Carl in which she said she’d been married to a former U.S. Marshal (Loren “Squirrel” Carl), saying that she didn’t leave Carl – he left his post, and the pair were still married. Carl chuckled and thanked him for the clarification. EMS workers The court unanimously approved the hiring of three new part-time emergency medical service (EMS) employees at the rate of $15 per hour. EMS Director Freeman Bailey said his fulltime staff was extremely busy due to the pandemic, and the new part-timers would give his staff a bit of a break. Parental paid leave The court voted unanimously to direct George to draft an ordinance instituting up to six weeks of paid parental leave for county employees who’ve held their jobs for at least a year. George said the court could hold a first reading at its Sept. 22 meeting. County clerk computers The court unanimously approved a sole bid by Software Management, LLC to provide computer equipment and maintenance to the county clerk’s office for five years. The company will be paid $45,880 by the clerk’s office for equipment and software, provide maintenance at no cost for the first year and for $4,848 per year afterwards, and $1,650 monthly for software license and service fees. Workforce Development The court voted unanimously to approve a renewal of the interlocal agreement with the Bluegrass Board of Local Elected Officials. The Bluegrass Workforce Development Area is made of up of 17 counties in Central Kentucky. Bluegrass Clean Sweep Magistrate William Downey (Dist. 5) reminded the court that Bluegrass Greensource’s Main Street Clean Sweep annual event is Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11:30. Volunteers will meet at Big Spring Park and be given gloves and trash bags. People who know of litter problems elsewhere in the county should contact him at wdowney@woodfordcountyky.gov. The event usually takes place on Earth Day, but was pushed back this year due to the pandemic.

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