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Fixing jail cell doors could mean more inmates

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The Sandoval County Commission will consider approval of an appropriation to retrofit and repair cell doors at the Sandoval County Detention Center at its meeting on Thursday.

Fixing the doors could have a significant impact on the county’s bottom line, as it has begun housing prisoners from Bernalillo County’s overcrowded Metropolitan Detention Center and taking on prisoners from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The work would make 37 more cells available to house prisoners, which could bring down the cost to operate the facility.

The county was appropriated $275,000 in capital outlay funding during the legislative session. The money is to be used to retrofit 90 cell doors at the detention center with new locking technology. Currently, the county is not able to hold inmates in 37 cells due to problems with the old doors.

It costs about $7.5 million a year to run the county facility, which houses county prisoners awaiting trial. When the federal contract was in place, the cost for the county to house prisoners was down to $4 million, according to Al Casamento, jail director.

The federal government stopped using Sandoval County to house prisoners after three suicides occurred at the jail in December 2011 and March 2012. That put a squeeze on the entire county budget last year. But the county recently began taking in federal inmates again, for which it is reimbursed at a rate of $67 per inmate per day, in August.

Sandoval County also houses Bernalillo County inmates, for which it gets $62 per inmate per day. Tom Swisstack, Bernalillo County’s deputy public safety manager and mayor of Rio Rancho, said he is willing to transfer as many inmates from his overcrowded facility to Sandoval County as the facility can take.

At Thursday’s meeting, the county will also consider a paving services contract with Franklin’s Earthmoving and Albuquerque Asphalt. The agenda item is to consider the paving services contractors for unit price agreements, which means they can be called on to do roadwork at any time, without having to go out to bid.

Adding up all the costs for a variety of work, the Franklin’s Earthmoving bid came to about $869,000 and the Albuquerque Asphalt bid was about $897,000.

Also on the agenda:

• Approval to use $487,415 in funding from the New Mexico Department of Transportation to improve the county’s roads. The county is required to put in $163,472 of its own money;

• Approval of a Sandoval County DWI and Prevention program, which uses “appropriate surveillance efforts” and assists offenders in participating in DWI programs; and

• A notice of approval for the county’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the commission chambers on the third floor of the County Administration Building, 1500 Idalia Road, Building D, in Bernalillo. Copies of the agenda may be obtained at the county manager’s office. Call 867-7538 for further information.

The commission will meet in the same room for a 6 p.m. work session on Monday, Sept. 16, to discuss its economic development strategy and five-year financial plan.

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