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Fewer state prisoners means less revenue for county

WILLMAR -- Starting in July, the state will be boarding fewer prisoners in the Kandiyohi County Jail. That will mean less revenue for the county.

In 2008, the state paid the county more than $1 million to house prisoners here.

At its peak in 2007, the county boarded as many as 60 Minnesota Department of Corrections inmates at one time in the county jail, said Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog.

Under the new joint powers agreement approved Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Commissioners, the state has agreed to keep up to 30 prisoners at the county jail, at a rate of $56.10 a day, with a maximum payment of $615,000 per year.

That's a steep decline from last year's payment of $1,052,604.

"It's a big hit for our revenue," County Administrator Larry Kleindl said.

Hartog said the state's prisoner population has gradually been declining, in part because of a decrease in crime and a decrease in jail sentences. The state is also using other facilities, rather than county jails, to house prisoners.

Although the state has put a $615,000 cap on Kandiyohi County's contract, that doesn't mean the county will receive that amount.

Kleindl said a cap in payment is not a guarantee of revenues to be received.

The county is currently boarding 28 prisoners for the state, Hartog said.

In other action:

- The commissioners approved a resolution of support to seek state funding to complete construction of an interchange on state Highway 23 and county roads 5 and 15. There is $30 million available for a special interchange program in rural Minnesota this year.

Patrick Weidemann, planning director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation's District 8 office in Willmar, told the commissioners to "keep your expectations down" about receiving the grant because there are some high profile interchange projects that are also vying for the funds. If the Kandiyohi County project is awarded the grant money, Weidemann said the District 8 would provide additional funds to help complete the by-pass that was originally started in the 1970s.

- County Attorney Boyd Beccue presented the sheriff's department and Willmar City Police Department with checks for $2,000 to help purchase body armor for their officers. Both entities are seeking grants to help funds the purchase of the expensive gear. Some vests cost $1,500 each. Beccue used money generated from the sale of forfeited property. He said the money was being returned to "the guys who brought it in originally."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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