Pierce County Council 'in the dark' on jail rates



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Posted on October 18, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 11:18 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- A simmering debate regarding funding and staffing for the Pierce County Jail took another turn Friday, as a study that looked at jail rates and fees was presented to the county council.

While most council members agreed the study lacked new information, several indicated it was the first time they learned county staff could not itemize where booking fee dollars go for misdemeanant inmates.

Officials with the PIerce County Executive indicated Friday that was a major reason the City of Tacoma moved its misdemeanants to the cheaper Fife City Jail.

"We're left today scratching our head saying, 'how are we not doing these basic accounting measures,'" said councilman and public safety chairman Dan Roach.

Unlike many newer jails, Pierce County Jail charges a "fully-loaded daily bed rate" of $89.50.  The inital booking fee is $220 [both are slightly more for non-exclusive contracts].

New facilities separate their bills, offering a "menu" of services similar to an everyday home bill.

A county official said Friday it asked the sheriff's department to implement "variable rates" last year, but there was resistance. Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Ed Troyer denied that contention Friday.

Troyer also said the county council gets all information on expenditures and is responsible for budgeting, not the sheriff's department.

Nonetheless, Roach hoped there might soon be a method to breakout where