The deal calls for the city to pay a $15-per-inmate booking fee, a $40-per-inmate daily base fee, plus a 10 percent surcharge. The new $15 booking fee should amount to a little less than $20,000 per year, according to City Manager John Bennett. The city did not pay a booking fee in previous contracts.
The committee also recommended that the county should refund the city $90,000 in overpayments through the years in one payment, as opposed to $45,000 payments in each of the next two years. The county wanted to spread the repayment out over two years to minimize the impact on their budget. That approval is up to the county.
“I think what we worked out is very reasonable,” Bennett told the committee.
The new arrangement also redefines what constitutes an inmate day. Previously, if a city inmate was booked at 11 p.m. and released on bond at 12:30 a.m. that constituted two days. The new deal stipulates that a person has to be incarcerated for more than six hours to constitute a second day.
Rome Police Chief Elaine Snow reported that six new officers were sworn in last month and that the city is in the process of screening applicants to fill another six vacancies.
Thirty-three applications were taken, but only 16 applicants showed up for physical agility tests and nine were eliminated through background checks.
“I hope we get two or three (out of the remaining seven) at least,” Snow said.
Snow and Fire Chief Gordon Henderson both indicated that the switchover to the new digital radio frequencies has gone well thus far.
Henderson said that the dispatch volume is still a little low on the fire department frequencies, while Snow said that patrol officers are using hand-held receivers for the time being. Car-mounted units have yet to be installed.
Committee Chair Buzz Wachsteter suggested that the city should start charging actual cost recovery charges for reporting false alarms.
Bennett said the Georgia Municipal Association is advocating for a fee increase for multiple false alarms to be approved in the General Assembly, but Wachsteter said that an increase in fees might not actually recover the cost of rolling police, fire, and other emergency units to a false alarm.
Currently, businesses and individuals are permitted to have three false alarms per year. The fourth false alarm generates a $35 charge, the fifth false alarms costs $65, the sixth costs $100 and any subsequent false alarms cost $125 each.