Second-to-last payment on Boyle jail due Feb. 1

Published 8:54 am Thursday, January 18, 2018

Boyle and Mercer counties will make their second-to-last payment on the Boyle County Detention Center debt this month, leaving one final payment to be made in 2019.

“It’s very exciting,” said Mary Conley, Boyle County treasurer, who was finance officer for the county when the debt on the jail was first taken out in the late 1990s.

The payment due by Feb. 1 is $361,954.17. That amount is split between the two counties at a ratio of 65/35 to Boyle/Mercer. Boyle’s portion is $235,270.22 and Mercer’s is $126,683.95, according to Conley.

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The Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee reviewed the payment at its January meeting Friday. As of the meeting, Mercer County had not yet transferred its portion of the payment, but Conley and Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman said as long as the Mercer County Fiscal Court approves at its Jan. 23 meeting, there will be time to make the payment. Boyle County approved paying its portion on Jan. 9.

Conley said after the meeting she remembers when Boyle County’s jail was located adjacent to the courthouse and a walkway between the two buildings allowed for inmates to be taken directly to court.

One of the reasons that old jail building had to go was because it had no air evacuation system, she said.

“I’ve seen incarceration change from the time it was in the early 90s to today,” she said.

Conley moved up from administrative assistant and finance officer to the position of Treasurer in September 2000, according to newspaper archives. She’s been at the helm of Boyle County’s finances for almost the entire time Boyle and Mercer have been paying off their jail.

“It’s cyclical because I’ve seen the debt get paid off for the courthouse expansion” as well, she said. “I was here when that was paid off, which was an exciting thing. And after we got that paid off, then comes the jail. And so, 20 years later, here we are again and we’re in the process (again).”

Boyle and Mercer are paying consulting company Brandstetter Carroll to find new solutions for their jailing needs. When the current jail was built, Conley said the counties had a population of around 120 inmates.

The jail had a capacity of 181 when it opened in the fall of 1998, according to news archives. Today, it has a 220-bed capacity, but has been above that mark for years. Last year, the inmate population peaked at more than 400 multiple times, but in recent months the number has plummeted, dipping as low as the 250s. Last week, Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon said the inmate population was in the 260s.

“I’ll be really glad to see that paid off, but you know we’ll fall right into something else,” Conley said.