LOGAN — The escalating cost of the county’s regional jail bill has reached such highs that the Logan County Commission will present a temporary hiring freeze to all county offices, Commission President Danny Godby said at Monday’s regular session of the commission.
Godby revealed the plan during public comments while Buffalo Creek resident and meeting regular Gerald Slone II had the floor lauding the recent efforts of the county’s law enforcement. The rising regional jail bill has become a regular discussion point in recent county commission meetings, especially during talks about increased law presence.
In the most recent county budget for the 2019-2020 year, $1.2 million was set aside for the jail bill, which equals out to $100,000 per month. At this time last year, Godby said, the bill regularly hovered around $70,000 to $80,000 per month, but has now escalated upward of $162,000.
“Our miners are our number one care about this. We don’t want to see anyone lose jobs or anything, but we can work around, sometimes, those things,” Godby said, referring to recent mine closures in the county. “But the thing that has been our biggest problem as far as the money situation has been our regional jail bill.”
Godby said the bill is about $4,825 per day. With each passing month, the bill is heading toward costing the county $2 million per year, far in excess of the budgeted $1.2 million. Godby said the commission will present a temporary hiring freeze on all county offices in order to have enough money to pay the bill.
“We’re going to have to do something right now,” Godby said. “I spoke with (County Clerk) John Turner, I spoke with several office-holders – we’re just going to have to try to work around some things and hopefully we can get through this with the work and help of the state and with other people involved. The Sheriff (Sonya M. Dingess Porter) is working hard on this, and we’re just trying to work to get this to a climax of where we can start to see light at the end of the tunnel, but at this point in time, it’s been very, very difficult, and we’ve had to rearrange some things and cut some things in order to make this happen.”
The commission has already taken recent measures in addressing the problem by reducing the amounts given in money requests by organizations and youth sports teams.
“There’s problems that will exist in the future if something is not done,” Godby said.
In other news from the meeting, Jon Webster and Steve Stewart, two officials from Appalachian Power, outlined the submission of a feasibility study submitted by Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power Company to the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council. The study is part of a proposed project to construct and operate a middle-mile broadband infrastructure expansion project in portions of Logan and Mingo counties that may have limited or no access to broadband internet service.
The Broadband Enhancement Council will consider the feasibility study and any public comments at a meeting at the West Virginia State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Terrace Blvd. East, Building 3, First Floor Conference Room #124 in Charleston at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Logan County Administrator Rocky Adkins said at the meeting that he will attend, and Webster encouraged anyone interested to attend. The council is required to take action on the study by Dec. 23.
Two Victims of Crime Act grants awarded by the office of Gov. Jim Justice were outlined. One has been awarded to the Logan County Prosecutor’s Office for $50,155 and the other to the Logan County Sheriff’s Department for $38,532.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Logan County Commission is at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in room 103 of the Logan County Courthouse. The public is encouraged to attend.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.