By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
Oneida County is being asked to agree to a contract that covers the boarding of prisoners from Oswego County.
The county to the northwest regularly uses the facility in Whitestown as a substitute jail to handle its overflow.
"We’re averaging about 25 inmates a day from Oswego County," Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol told a panel of Oneida County legislators as they reviewed the proposed agreement.
The proposal documents in one place what is already being done in practice. It outlines the responsibilities of each county.
Oneida County charges Oswego and other counties $90 a day to board in a prisoner.
"Their budget office just wants a contract," explained the sheriff. Maciol said there is no prospect of Oswego County adding more cells in the short term, adding that the county "loves" the Whitestown location and facility.
If approved, the agreement would run through next March 31. The daily charge could not be increased while the contract is in effect — something that gives Oswego County come certainty when it comes to costs.
The Public Safety Committee passed the contract 6-0 with five members absent. It still needs the approval of the Ways & Means Committee and then the full Board of Legislators. Passage is likely because boarding-in Oswego County prisoners has become a steady revenue source for the Sheriff’s Office. For example, the daily charge for 25 out-of-county prisoners is $2,250.
Maciol said other counties that use Oneida County’s jail include Herkimer and Jefferson.
"We get a bunch a of weekenders from Jefferson County," said the sheriff, referring to people who serve jail sentences on weekends so they can keep their jobs.
The Oswego County jail is routinely at capacity and must house prisoners in other counties. County legislators approved July 12 transferring $200,000 to the sheriff’s budget to cover the costs of boarding prisoners in other counties. During the discussion of the motion, one legislator suggested that Oswego County could be $600,000 over budget by year’s end when it comes to paying to board prisoners out of county.
This month’s transfer followed the shift of $200,000 to the Sheriff’s Office in March for the same reason. The original 2012 budget allocated $100,000 for boarding prisoners.
While there has been some talk of expanding the facility in the City of Oswego, no such project is on the drawing board.