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The North Little Rock City Council will vote Monday on a resolution to pay 3% more to the county for the cost of operating and maintaining the jail.

The resolution states that the city agrees to pay $1,098,717 in 2021, an increase from the agreement the city passed in 2019.

Mayor Joe Smith said there is a caveat in the resolution that states that the city and the county will review this agreement three months into 2020 to see if it's feasible during a pandemic.

"After we get the three month quarterly, revenue-wise for North Little Rock and Little Rock, we might have to adjust up or down according to our income," he said. "Covid being out there means we don't know what the situation will be month to month so the county judge thought this would be a fair way to start, and we agreed."

Pulaski County municipalities shifted from running their own jails when the county jail opened in the 1990s. Since then, municipalities have contracted with the county to house their inmates.

This year is the second in a row with an increase in cost for the cities' use of the jail, with the fees increasing 25% between 2019 and 2020.

Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers said earlier this year that he believes Little Rock and North Little Rock have been getting charged less for how much they use the jail, while smaller cities like Jacksonville and Maumelle have unfairly high amounts to pay.

The Pulaski County Quorum Court's agenda committee sent in October an ordinance to the full Quorum Court that would have set a daily fee for municipalities to keep inmates in the county jail if a new agreement cannot be reached on a flat fee.

The ordinance would have charged municipalities $64.70 per day per inmate unless an agreement is made between the county judge, Barry Hyde, and mayors in the county.

"I feel like under the flat fee right now that the cities pay that Sherwood, Maumelle and Jacksonville come out on the short end of the stick, and Little Rock and North Little Rock get a sweet deal," Stowers previously said. "I feel like moving to a per diem, which is what the ordinance is, would be a more equitable manner of reimbursement for use of the jail."

Smith said it was good to avoid a per-diem agreement because of the complications surrounding a daily fee for an inmate.

"We aren't confident in the computer system to figure out exactly when a prisoner comes in and how long they spent and so on," he said. "There are also issues that might rise up. For example, when we stop somebody for speeding and they have warrants in Arkadelphia and they get held until Arkadelphia can get them. If they stay there for three days, do we pay for it or Arkadelphia?"

Smith said he expects the full support of the council when the resolution comes up during the meeting.

"Jails are a necessary evil, and our council understands that," he said. "The cost of running a jail is sky high, and we have to pitch in."

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