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Published 8:58 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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Jail cost negotiations

It looks like months of vigorous debate, to put it nicely, over how Boyle and Mercer counties share the cost of their jail is finally reaching a solution. The solution is not — as has been suggested by some in angrier moments — that Mercer takes their prisoners and goes home; instead, it’s a cooperative compromise that maintains a valuable alliance.

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The two counties have doubtless saved a huge amount of money over the past two decades by sharing the Boyle County Detention Center. If you don’t have your own jail, you have to pay someone else to house your inmates. Fees for that service are likely to be padded somewhat so the jail can subsidize some of its own costs.

Neither Boyle nor Mercer has had to subsidize anyone else’s jail for 20 years. Over those years, money that didn’t have to be spent on the jail has been available to provide more government services, build better roads or keep taxes low.

Now, as long as both fiscal courts approve of what the Joint Jail Committee has recommended, it looks like the counties have found a way to maintain a fair and balanced alliance that will let Boyle and Mercer continue saving into the future.

The Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee deserves a lot of credit for maintaining a level head and a steady hand. The committee had its disagreements but always resolved them calmly and with respect, despite there being plenty of opportunities to cry foul and blow the whole thing up.

Thumbs Down

Junction mayor taking action without informing council

We’re all for Junction City participating in and having a voice on the board of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. But it was made clear on Friday that Mayor Jim Douglas probably didn’t handle the appointment of someone to represent Junction City in the most transparent way.

In April, Douglas appointed Steve Knight to the EDP board and agreed to pay the EDP $1,500 so Knight could have a voting seat. But at the May meeting of the Junction City Council, council members said they had no idea Douglas was going to do that — in fact, council member Bill McCowan said he had been under the impression Junction City was “dead set against” putting a representative on the EDP board.

Council members made it clear the decision had not been addressed with them previously, questioned why they had been left out of the decision-making process and wondered why they didn’t know about the need to find a representative (Knight does not live in Junction City, they noted).

Douglas ended the discussion at one point by saying he thinks the $1,500 is “money well spent” and suggested there was stuff going on “behind closed doors” at the EDP that Junction had not been privy to before, but now would be.

It’s an ironic point to make when Douglas kept his own council members in the dark on the decision to rejoin the EDP board.