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Highway robbery? County balks at cost of inmate labor

The cost of inmate labor appears to be going up dramatically and Grady County commissioners are not interested in paying more.
The county was recently notified by Decatur County that the cost of providing inmate work crews to work with the Grady County Road Department is increasing 37.5 percent to $55,000 annually.
On top of that, the county provides a vehicle and fuel to transport the work detail from the Decatur County Prison. The agreement calls for approximately 12 male inmates to work five days per week, but Road Superintendent Stanley Elkins says the crew averages from eight to 10 and a crew does not come every day.
Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar said Tuesday that the county is looking into other options.
Tobar said that Grady County Jail Administrator John Walton says there are not enough available trustees at the local jail to create a work detail.
County Commissioner Charles Norton questioned why trustees would be the only ones to work since there would be a guard to monitor the inmates.
Norton also suggested that the sheriff and local judges could use incentives to promote work details to inmates in the county jail.
“We’re currently paying $40,000 and when you add in a vehicle, maintenance and fuel, we’re talking about a $100,000 package now. That’s a lot of money,” Norton said.
The board took no action on the Decatur County agreement Tuesday.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
Approved the purchase of a new heavy duty mower for the recreation department. The board accepted the bid of $8,299 from South Georgia Tractor for a Kubota mower on the recommendation of Recreation Director Becky Bracewell. The South Georgia Tractor bid was not the lowest bid but, on the recommendation of the county staff, it was determined to be the best bid.
Heard a report from County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley, who said he had had good discussions with local property owners concerning right-of-way acquisition as part of the Tired Creek Lake project. “As terms are known, I will bring those back to you for your approval and we may be to that point soon on a couple of spots,” Cauley said.
Heard an update on the new Barber Park policies and procedures from Administrator Tobar. He told commissioners he has received additional comments from Commission Chairman T.D. David and Commissioner Billy Poitevint and he would bring the revised plan back to the board at its June 17 meeting.
Discussed participation in the Georgia Land Bank. According to Tobar, land that is on the delinquent tax rolls and has not been sold is donated to the Land Bank, which attempts to package the property and sell to private investors. Once sold, for the first five years 75 percent of what would be paid in taxes would be paid into the Land Bank and 25 percent paid to the county. After year six, 100 percent would be paid to the county. The board tabled action until Tobar can research and bring back a recommendation.

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