Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Johnson County

February 15, 2011

Court approves LaSalle jail expansion project

The Johnson County Commissioners Court on Monday took action regarding expansion of the Johnson County Law Enforcement Center and construction of an adult probation building.

Commissioners approved a proposal from LaSalle Southwest Corrections, the Dripping Springs-based company contracted to manage the county’s jail facility, to build a 96-bed facility on county jail property to hold overnight and weekend inmates, freeing up beds in the higher security portion of the jail for inmates under custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

LaSalle officials made the original proposal to commissioners last week after they, along with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, were approached by ICE officials to house an additional 100 inmates at the county jail under an existing intergovernmental agreement.

LaSalle officials also told commissioners that housing the additional inmates would increase revenue and savings of more than $600,000 annually from a combination of income received from ICE, decreased per diem due to housing more inmates and increased phone revenue.

LaSalle officials agreed to finance the cost for construction up front, not to exceed $1.25 million, and allow the county to reimburse La Salle over the life of its newly-extended contract, which expires Aug. 30, 2015.

Funds for reimbursement to LaSalle would only come from revenue earned from housing ICE inmates and from phone revenue from those additional ICE and out-of-county inmates, La Salle officials said.

Under the agreement, the county would receive the property free and clear and would no longer be liable for any reimbursements to LaSalle after the 2015 contact expires, even if full construction costs are not recovered.

“I’m impressed with the response [from LaSalle]. This looks very good for the county,” Commissioner John Matthews told LaSalle officials. “Based on these documents, you have eliminated all county risk. I see no negatives here. It’s a great deal.”

Commissioners asked LaSalle officials to draft a contract for consideration at the next court meeting.

The county pays $43.85 cents per inmate per day with a minimum of 484 inmates, under the current contract, with a sliding-scale rate based on a higher inmate count and receives $5 for each U.S. Marshal inmate and for each ICE inmate after 100.

LaSalle Corrections and its affiliates manage ten correctional facilities in Louisiana and Texas, according to its website, with a total inmate capacity of over 7,600 and lease one facility to a law enforcement agency.

In a separate action, commissioners authorized the solicitation for a construction manager-at-risk for a proposed two-story, 32,000-square-foot adult probation building to be located west of the Guinn Justice Center.

Preliminary estimates put the project’s cost at just under $4 million.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners also:

• Tabled consideration for Dumas Land Surveying to survey a 60-foot portion of a previously platted lot in Fisherman’s Paradise for emergency ingress and egress easement purposes.

• Reinstated an order prohibiting outdoor burning.

• Approved continuation of a $33,162 mental health peace officer grant for the sheriff’s office.

• Approved an application for a Criminal Justice Department grant to purchase alert training equipment.

• Approved an election services agreement with Election Systems and Software, Inc.

• Approved a voting machine lease agreement with the city of Burleson and Rio Vista ISD.

• Approved an interagency agreement with the city of Mansfield, the city of Burleson, the city of Grand Prairie and Ellis County to file application to form a joint task force with the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, creating the Tri-county Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Task Force.

• Approved a software license agreement with Netmotion Wireless, Inc.

• Approved selling surplus computer equipment to the city of Cleburne.

• Approved an application for membership for IT Director Dan Milam to the Texas County Information Technology Association.

• Approved newly-elected officers to the Johnson County Historical Commission.

• Approved a Johnson County Historical Commission request to be included on the county’s website.

• Tabled the appointment of Wesley Neeley to the Johnson County Historical Commission.

• Voted to terminate perusal of a water well project at Hamm Creek Park and voted to continue a water supply contract with Cleburne-based Crest Water Company.

• Approved installation of playground equipment for Hamm Creek Park.

• Approved a memorandum of agreement with the North Central Texas Major Case Investigative Team.

The court also presented a plaque to Billy Cate, outgoing chair of the Johnson County Historical Commission, and presented a proclamation for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

The court’s next meeting is Feb. 28.

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