Stone County Regional Correctional Facility paid off

The Stone County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved the final payment on the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility.

"It's a historic day," Board President Scott Strickland said. This has been a 20-year process."

In 1999, Stone County entered into a $5.8 million bond issue to pay for the facility.

That bond was refinanced in 2009, a move that saved the county money, county attorney Scott Gibson said.

After approving the final payment Monday morning, the board addressed several issues associated with taking full ownership of the facility.

The biggest issue appeared to be with the housing of state inmates.

The facility currently holds more than 200 inmates for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

MDOC pays the county about $24 per day, per inmate, supervisors said.

Over the years, the money generated from housing state inmates has been used to pay operational costs.

According to Gibson, the county's contract with the state was set to expire upon final payment of the county's bond.

Strickland said getting a new contract with MDOC was a priority.

"It's very important for us to get a new contract or a memorandum of understanding signed," Strickland said. "The state is under no obligation to keep the inmates here."

County officials acted quickly, and by mid-afternoon Monday, Gibson announced that the board had a tentative agreement with the state which, he said, should be finalized by early next week.

Under the new contract, the county will receive about the same amount of money for holding individual inmates, but it will be given a greater number of inmates, which will generate additional revenue.

Another issue surrounding the payoff of the jail is what to do with surplus funds in the current accounts.

Gibson explained that if the funds were generated from a tax, then the county could be obligated to reduce millage.

Supervisors, however, said they believe the surplus funds are the result of revenue, since there was no additional tax burden place on county residents with the revenue bond for the jail.

Strickland said some of the money the county has in jail funds are already earmarked for certain projects such as roof repairs and jail booking and tracking software.

"The facility is about 20 year's old and we want to make some improvements to ensure its stability for the next 20 years," Strickland said.

The board then asked Gibson to look into the legalities surrounding the final payment of the facility and report back before then new MDOC contract is approved.

Supervisors said they will host a special meeting on Monday or Tuesday to formally approve the new contract.

The exact time of the meeting had not been set by press time Tuesday.

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