ALBION — Money collected by the housing of inmates from other Indiana counties will now be utilized to offset general maintenance costs of housing them — as well as to shore up the county’s extradition fund.
The Noble County Commissioners gave final approval to the ordinance on Monday.
Noble County Sheriff Max Weber had came up with the idea of using the money collected by inmates housed from other counties to help with expenses.
At earlier county meetings, Weber had pointed to an extradition fund which was rapidly running out of money. To transport an inmate from Florida or Texas, for example, can cost the county thousands of dollars.
Prior to the passage of the ordinance, the money gleaned from housing these prisoners was earmarked for the county general fund.
Noble County collects $37.50 per inmate per day to house inmates from other counties. In 2020, that number will increase to $40.
Weber said as of Monday morning, the Noble County Jail was housing approximately eight to nine inmates from neighboring counties.
Also Monday, the commissioners approved a contract with a company which will provide aerial photography of the county in the spring of 2020 and the spring of 2023.
Noble County GIS Director Steve Hook said the photography is valuable to multiple departments, including the Noble County Assessor’s Office.
The assessor’s office will pay 75% of the total cost of $368,957.50, with the remainder coming from the GIS office line item in CEDIT funds.
The flyover this spring will provide pictures of much higher quality than the county is used to receiving as part of a special promotion offering a 50% discount on such detailed imagery. That flyover will cost Noble County $182,413.50, or $4,000 less than it will pay for the less detailed images it will receive in 2023.
“We’re paying a little less, and we’re getting a better product,” Hook said.
The commissioners also received an update from the St. Joseph River Basin Commission.
Dan Lash, who serves as proxy for Commissioner Anita Hess when Hess can’t attend meetings, attended a commission gathering where information was distributed concerning a trial run of a program involving the Kankakee Valley River Basin Commission.
The Indiana General Assembly shrunk that commission from 25 to nine members, and gave that body taxing authority. The Kankakee River Basin Commission is expected to collect $3 million per year to help alleviate flooding issues in that district.
If the program works well, Lash said, the program could potentially be expanded.
“This could be coming down the pike for the St. Joseph River Basin Commission,” Lash said.
The West Lakes area in Noble County has been home to occasionally severe flooding in recent years, and could potentially by impacted by such an expansion of taxing authority for the basin.
“I’m kind of excited about that,” said Lash, who is a West Lakes resident. “It looks like it would solve our problem.”
The commissioners also gave approval for the Noble County Probation Department to pursue a grant to help with state-mandated risk assessments. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all inmates booked into the Noble County Jail will receive a risk assessment.
The goal, according to Noble County Circuit Court Judge Michael Kramer, is to release low-risk suspects without them having to post bonds.
Noble County could be eligible for a two-year, $60,000-per-year grant to hire an employee to do these pretrial risk assessments. The state is moving away from cash bonds in favor of assessments, so the grant would help pay the salary for a person to help with that process. Lovino said the county could potentially partner with Bowen Center, who would provide a worker.
If the grant money goes away after two years, that person could return to work at the Bowen Center.