Jail Officials Fear State Won't Pay Its Bills

Jail Officials Fear State Won't Pay Its Bills

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Utah County jail officials fear their budget may come up short at the end of the year if the state does not pay its bills for housing state inmates.

That could mean the county will have to take money away from something else.

Sheriff's Capt. John Carlson, who oversees operation of the jail, said the state has promised to pay the total bill, but that might not happen until next year unless the money is provided in a special legislative session. Only Gov. Mike Leavitt can call the Legislature into a special session.

The state pays counties 70 percent of the cost to house state inmates in county jails, which ends up being $32 per day per inmate, Carlson said. Those inmates have generally been sentenced to time in the county jail as a condition of probation.

The state's budget came up short for county jail payments during the fiscal year that ended June 30. So far, it has the money to pay its bills for this fiscal year. But the county figures its operating budget on a different calendar, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. And if the state can't pay its bill before Dec. 31, the jail's budget could be in the red.

County Commissioner Gary Herbert said the county must balance its budget, so if one area is short the county has to take money away from another program or department to make up the shortfall. That could mean cutting county services or jobs.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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