By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Jail housing and medical costs will be $632,142 for Port Angeles and $240,000 for Sequim, according to unanimously approved contract amendments.
A new flat rate for both cities will be negotiated for 2015 and following years.
Costs are based on the number of bookings from Port Angeles and Sequim into the 120-bed regional jail.
Forks has its own jail.
Sheriff Bill Benedict proposed the change to provide more budget predictability for the two cities and the county and to reduce administrative overhead.
Billing the cities on a daily per-inmate fee, which took effect for Sequim in 2008 and Port Angeles in 2009, costs the county the equivalent of a half-time employee, Benedict told commissioners in an Aug. 25 work session.
Commissioner Mike Chapman in that work session said he was inclined to vote against the contract amendments, saying he “bought the argument” several years ago that a daily rate was better for the county.
Chapman on Tuesday said Benedict assuaged his concerns.
“He convinced me it was the right way to go,” Chapman said.
Future flat fees will be based on a three-year rolling average of the number of bookings from Port Angeles and Sequim.
The contracts will have built-in protections for the county, Chapman said.
Although bookings from the cities have remained consistent over the past five years, the city of Port Angeles, in particular, has been paying more and more to use the jail, Benedict has said.
Port Angeles City Manager Dan McKeen told the City Council in June that 2014 jail costs were on track to be $300,000 more than a budgeted $600,000.
Benedict and McKeen have agreed that budget predictability is in the best interest of both jurisdictions.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.