By Jack King 

Overcrowded jail still a drain on county resources

 


Budget problems and the financial demands of the adult detention center continue to raise concerns at a Curry County Commission meeting Tuesday.

The commission turned down a request by Plains Regional Medical Center to increase the county’s contribution to the sole community provider program, citing budget concerns and a deficit in the county’s indigent care fund.

Under the sole community provider program, the county uses part of its indigent care fund to repay the hospital for caring for indigent patients in Curry County. Through the state Human Services department, the federal government matches that contribution on a 2.76 to 1 basis, said County Manager Geneva Cooper.

Wesley White, the hospital’s chief financial officer, asked the commission to increase the county contribution by approximately $50,000, but Cooper told the commission the county’s indigent care fund cannot afford the increase.

The fund — paid for with gross receipts taxes — received $759,820, but had $855,340 in claims — a $95,520 deficit that had to be paid from county reserves, she said.

Detention Center Administrator Don Burdine said that, as of Friday, the detention center had 312 prisoners. By Tuesday, the county was housing 87 prisoners in Dickens County, Texas, and 11 in other out-of-county facilities. For December, the bill for housing prisoners in Dickens County was $117,387, he said.


County Sheriff Roger Hatcher said the sentencing commission has agreed to support three bills in the upcoming state legislative session that would mandate that the state repay counties for transportation, extradition or housing of state prisoners and would create a 1/16 percent gross receipts tax category to pay for counties’ expenses in housing state prisoners.


The commission also heard a report on a possible business plan for its proposed convention center from representatives of Global Entertainment Corp.

Global Entertainment President Rick Kozuback said to be successful a special events center should attract as many and as varied a stream of events as possible.

He said the convention center should have an “anchor client,” such as a sports team — since Global Entertainment represents the Central Hockey League, he suggested an ice hockey team — as well as “contractually obligated income” from premium seats, advertising sales, stadium-naming rights, drink-pouring rights and “trade opportunities” like paid parking and trash pickup concessions.


Global Entertainment would build and operate a 3,500-seat building that would be suitable for indoor sporting events, family skating, family shows like circuses and “Disney on Ice,” trade shows, concerts, banquets and civic events, said architect Donald Dethlefs, of Sink Combs Dethlefs.

Ice on the floor could be melted and the floor covered with insulation and dirt for a rodeo, he said.

Global Entertainment’s proposed special events centers would cost between $16.2 million and $18.3 million, which would include equipment for an ice rink, Dethlefs said.

Cooper said the county has approximately $4 million available to fund a special events center, but Kevin Powers, of Dain Rauscher, the county’s bond counsel, said it could fund the difference with “project revenue bonds,” under which it could pledge the revenue from the events center to pay the principle and interest.


Commissioner Pete Hulder asked Kozuback how he could say the proposed center would generate $8.2 million in gross receipts tax income, an amount that would equal $22,400 a day, he said.

“That didn’t make sense in the context he gave us,” Hulder said.

On Aug. 5, the commission approved a contract with LPDJ Architects of Bountiful, Utah, to provide architectural services for the special events center, but made the contract contingent on the successful negotiation of a contract. County Attorney Steven Doerr said since beginning negotiations commissioners have decided they need a business plan for the events center.


In other business:

n The commissioner elected Commissioner Kathrynn Tate commission chairwoman and Commissioner Ed Perales vice chairman.

n Commissioner Tim Ashley suggested that the commission move its meetings to the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Library to make it easier to simulcast commission meetings, but was voted down 3-2. Perales voted “yes,” but Hulder, Tate and Commissioner Albin Smith said the move would be logistically difficult and would not benefit most county residents.

 
 

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