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County likely to lose up to $15,000 with lower jail reimbursements
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 12, 2010) — At the same time county officials are struggling to find ways to balance their jail budget, state officials are planning changes that could substantially reduce the jail’s income.

At Monday morning’s county commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch read a letter from the Missouri Association of Counties warning that the prisoner per diem — the amount paid per day by the state to counties to compensate them for the cost to house inmates in county jails who are convicted on state charges until they’re sent to state prison — has been cut back by $2.42 per day.

Those payments are crucial to Pulaski County because the county pays $35 per day to other jails, mostly the Phelps County Jail, Miller County Jail and Dixon City Jail, to house most of Pulaski County’s inmates because the Pulaski County Jail is too small to hold the county’s jail population.

Officially, Missouri law authorizes payments of $35 per day to counties but that’s “subject to appropriations,” so the legislature decides each year how much it can afford to pay to reimburse counties. A few years ago the payment was $20 per day; after several increases, the payments reached $22.50 per day this year.

McCulloch said the $2.42 cutback will cost Pulaski County an estimated $14,000 to $15,000 this year, based on the figures from the circuit clerk’s office.

Commissioner Bill Farnham wasn’t happy.

“I just want to point out that they’re real quick on cutting it back but real slow at increasing it. It took us years to get it up to that level and now it’s all gone,” Farnham said.

County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer said she expects the Missouri Association of Counties will be discussing per prisoner per diem at its upcoming meeting.

“I’d say they’re probably going to be trying to sway someone on per diem,” Linnenbringer said.

Farnham wasn’t optimistic.

“I’d say it’s a dead issue now,” Farnham said.

“It probably is,” Linnenbringer agreed, but said she’d see what she can do to place the issue before State Sen. Frank Barnitz and State Rep. David Day, both of whom represent Pulaski County.

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