The amount Ohio County pays the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville to house its inmates has been dropping significantly in recent months, county commissioners said Tuesday night.
Commissioner Randy Wharton commended Prosecutor Scott Smith for submitting the lowest jail bill he could remember in the county, which came to about $34,000 for the month of June, according to administrator Greg Stewart. That figure is about half of what the county typically pays on a monthly basis, they said.
The county is responsible for paying to incarcerate all prisoners arrested not just by Ohio County deputies, but by all local law enforcement.
The cost to house an inmate at the Northern Regional Jail is $48.50 per day.
In 2003, the county was paying an average of $90,000 a month to the Northern Regional Jail, and yearly costs exceeded $1 million. But since then, Smith has been seeking ways to reduce jail costs, according to Wharton.
"The jail bill has always been a financial burden to the county," he said. "At one time, it was an extreme financial burden. Over the years, we had discussions with ... Smith to try and keep it down, and he has the ability to do that by looking at the inmate count every morning and working hard to put people through the process to keep that bill low. That frees up money we can use for other things that are a lot more important."
In other matters, Stewart told commissioners the bid to place a new sprinkler system on the upper floors of the courthouse came in considerably less than expected.
Brewer & Co. of Charleston submitted the lowest bid of $254,900, and the county had anticipated costs closer to $300,000, Stewart said. He said the costs were lower because Brewer recently placed a sprinkler system at West Virginia Independence Hall in downtown Wheeling, and the company knew the city's water pressure was strong enough that a water pump wouldn't be needed.
Because of this, Brewer's bid was $175,000 less than others submitted, according to Stewart.
He expects work to begin this fall, and take about 12 to 16 weeks.
Ohio County received a state Courthouse Facilities grant for $100,000 to put toward the project.
The sprinklers will be installed beginning on the fourth floor of the courthouse, and work will continue to the lower floors.