SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -The Greene County Commission responded to Springfield City Council’s list of questions concerning the proposal for a temporary jail. Commissioners recently presented the proposal in hopes of solving the city’s issue of where to take its prisoners.
On Thursday, the Greene County Commission and Sheriff Jim Arnott met in a closed meeting. In a letter to the city, Greene County Commission says the city’s lawsuits against the Greene County Commission and Greene County Sheriff are making negotiations tougher than they need to be.
It also says it’s asking for the city’s trust. We spoke with Mayor Bob Stephens who says the real questions is if Greene County Commission and Greene County Sheriff aren’t following the current contract are they going to follow a new one?
“There has been some rupturing of the trust between the county commission and the sheriff’s department and Springfield City Council,” said Mayor Bob Stephens.
Stephens says it started with an agreement no longer being fulfilled.
“That has been honored by our police chief, the city council, and by the county commission and the sheriff ever since 1997 up until April of last year when in our opinion the sheriff breached that contract by closing the jail to municipal prisoners,” Stephens said.
Earlier this year the Springfield City Council made new agreements with Taney and Miller Counties to house the city’s prisoners.
“So far it’s working fine. We have several people, we have a place where we can hold prisoners for a couple or three hours if we need to before they’re transported,” said Stephens.
The city has budgeted $500,000 for those agreements this year but now the Greene County Commission is presenting its proposal for a temporary jail.
“$500,000 or $3 million. You’re a taxpayer, which one do you want us to spend?” said Stephens.
Stephens wrote the commission asking questions on behalf of the Springfield City Council.
“We pay $3 million to hire this new structure for 20 prisoners and it fills up with people state and federal charges will he again say you can’t bring your municipal prisoners here?” Stephens said.
The city asked how the Greene County Commission could guarantee those beds when the sheriff is in charge of the jail, and if it could foresee the city having to pay more than the presumed amount of $3 million along with several other questions.
“If all of the questions are satisfactory to the council I think we would continue exploring the option and so forth,” said Stephens.
In the Greene County Commission’s response, they say the beds would be guaranteed to the city because the commission would be leasing the facility in agreement to furnish the beds for the city.
As far as the city’s expense, the commission says the presumed cost is only an estimate.
Once the county and city reach an agreement it will then go to Sheriff Arnott who will commit to what he can legally.