Commissioners in both Ottawa and Delaware counties met Monday to approve modifications to an interlocal agreement that would allow Delaware County inmates to be housed in the Ottawa County Jail.
Modification of the agreement comes at the request of the state Attorney General who said last week that “a few minor clerical errors” prohibit his approval of the agreement.
“Basically, the agreement was not fully executed,” said Charlie Price, a representative of the Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s office. “The official seal for Delaware County is not affixed to the agreement. There was no evidence provided to our office that either of the (count commission) boards had approved the agreement and there was a matter of disposal of property that was not adequately described.”
The latter issues are matters of wording within the agreement, according to Price.
“There is no property to dispose of in this case, but the agreement needs to clarify that,” Price said. “And we just need proof of the boards’ approval for this agreement. What it boils down to is we have to have every I dotted and T crossed.”
On Dec. 18, William C. Reppart Jr., the attorney for Delaware County, notified the Attorney General that his client would promptly correct the deficiencies and return the modified agreement.
The state’s approval is now a matter of urgency for Delaware County commissioners who are set to ask voters to fund the arrangement.
On Jan. 13, voters will decide the fate of a proposed a tenth of a penny sales tax through March 31, 2014, for the purpose of housing Delaware County inmates outside the district.
Delaware County has been under the gun by the state Department of Health to resolve overcrowding in the jail.
The state issued a compliance order in 2006 regarding conditions at the jail — with emphasis on overcrowding. For several months the jail had been housing between 68 and 81 inmates in a facility designed to accommodate 61 inmates.
The interlocal agreement, in part, is to rent 20 beds from Ottawa County for three years, which would give Delaware County time to find a permanent solution.
Despite immediate action by commissioners in Ottawa and Delaware counties to correct the deficiencies it will be next week before the modifications can be formalized.
“We can change the wording concerning the disposal of property and attach the required seal to the agreement right now,” Reppart said. “However, it will be next Monday (Jan. 5) before the minutes of today’s meeting are official and can be sent to the Attorney General’s Office.”
That leaves five days for the AG’s approval before the special election by Delaware County voters.
“The deficiencies are minor and everything else is in order,” Price said. “I can’t promise an approval by our office before the election, but I’m sure that, given the circumstances, we will expedite the process.”
Delaware County officials could not be reached for comment, but their attorney did say he was confident the election would occur as scheduled.
“I think we can get everything completed and get an approval from the state before Jan. 13,” Reppart said.
According to Price, the counties had two options for accomplishing an interlocal agreement — one of which does not require approval by the attorney general’s office.
Section 1008 of the Interlocal Agreement Act allows for an informal agreement to be made between two public agencies for various services.
However, both counties decided to enter into a formal agreement in accordance with Section 1004 that involves numerous conditions that must be satisfied, including the review and approval of the Attorney General.