By Sarrah Peters
Last week, the city of Gadsden was given until Oct. 1 to come to an agreement with the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office on a jail contract.
The previous contract expired two years ago, but the the city’s inmates are still housed.
The Etowah County Commission’s proposed agreement has the city paying for a guaranteed 40 beds a day, at $60 a bed.
The city does not want to agree to this, as it uses only about 15 beds a day, according to Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton. He also thought it was unfair that the federal government is only charged $45 per bed a day, as opposed to $60.
At the Gadsden City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 18, Guyton outlined many of the ways Gadsden has worked to make the areas around the city better, and improved Etowah County, including sponsoring a DHR project, helping to build the new Etowah County Health Department, helping improve roads outside the city, saving and adding new jobs for the area and much more.
“After all this, we have now been told that if we don’t pay for a guaranteed number of beds per day in the county jail, many of which will not be used, we will be kicked out by the end of September,” said Guyton. “The county leaves the city of Gadsden no choice but to look for other partners or to build a jail, which will be an unnecessary duplication of services in the area.”
Councilman Thomas Worthy said that building a city jail may be a more cost-effective venture.
The city does not intend to stop working with local government.
“Gadsden will continue to look for ways to work with other local governments, but we will not be bullied into another bad deal,” said Guyton.
Guyton went on to question the county’s budget, which he says “is hurting from bad investments and security needs,” citing the industrial mega-site as an example.
“I understand the commission is at a conference at the beach. I guess Mr. Statum is learning to draw lines in the sand,” said Guyton in a response to a quote the County Commissioner gave to the Gadsden Times last week about the deadline.