Wednesday, September 15, 2010

County Judge Jim Lewis Says CEC Jail Costs Taxpayers $0

County Judge Jim Lewis told a broadcaster yesterday that the Jack Harwell Detention Center costs taxpayers nothing.

Not true!

McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows received nearly $3,000 from executives of the company building the new Jack Harwell Detention Center on State Highway 6 for his re-election campaign. Here's where that cost taxpayers money.

Back in July, the Bureau of prisons owed the county - $130,000.00 for housing federal prisoners. There was some mixup and Medicare seized the money to offset a payment made on behalf of a county employee's spouse. It's pretty complicated how the county "lost" $130K.

The contract the county has with CEC is interesting in two parts.
1st the contract stipulates payment to CEC is only due if the money is actually received. If the money is not received, it is CEC's problem.

Secondly, the CEC contract prohibits use of taxpayer money to pay for the prisoners. This fact has been touted by the county judge, who lauds the clause as a protection for taxpayers.

Seems pretty simple. It is not a county problem. Remember, these are not county prisoners.

Ray Meadows did exactly that by making a motion for an exception to the contract to allow using taxpayer money to cover the loss experienced by his "friends". If that is not interesting enough, besides the $102, 435.15 bill taxpayers got, did taxpayers also pay to cover the Sheriff's $1,000.00 a month kickback?

County budget director Adam Hall is on record saying he does not know. “I'm probably not the one to ask about that,” he said recently.

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