CCNO denies Lucas County more beds

Staff report

Lucas County will not get a last-minute request for 50 additional beds in 2018 at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, the facility’s commission decided last week.

By an 8-2 vote, CCNO board members denied the allocation following a special meeting held Oct. 25 in which Lucas County asked for more bed space. The county presently contracts for 275 spaces.

The board explained its decision by saying the county repeatedly postponed selecting the number of beds it wanted, a decision originally due in July. Board Chairman Robert Hastedt noted that Lucas County was accommodated with several extensions until the Oct. 4 meeting, when 275 beds were requested. At a meeting held Oct. 25, the county requested 50 additional beds for next year, for a total of 325.

Hastedt said that during the county’s extension CCNO contracted with the U.S Marshal Services for the extra beds at a $90 per diem rate, which exceeds the $69.42 operating rate paid by the facility’s members.

According to Dennis Sullivan, director of CCNO Security and Operations, that agreement was made because the beds in question were not claimed following the Oct. 4 meeting. The loss of revenue would have amounted to $550,000 which threatened potential cutbacks and staff layoff.

Sullivan said CCNO board members contracted with U.S. Marshal Services out of fear Lucas County would pull from the facility as it had in 2016. The departure left the facility with a $1.3 million deficit. The county previously informed CCNO it would leave the facility, then withdrew the notice. The county also claimed in July it would place a bond issue on the ballot to build its own jail, but that was withdrawn.

CCNO Executive Director Jim Dennis said he’s confident the allotment of U.S Marshal Services beds will be filled regularly. They will be given to pre-trial federal prisoners from Franklin County, 68 percent of whom fit minimum security.

Dennis said Lucas County was given two opportunities to claim the bed space prior to its last-minute request. “The 275 beds created a deficit for funded beds in the facility. And we clearly indicated that to the board,” he said. “We needed to fill those beds, and Lucas County on Oct. 4 wasn’t ready to commit to more beds.”

He said the board’s decision was influenced by Lucas County Commission Pete Gerken’s indecision, adding, “That behavior, those ups and downs, were creating instability at CCNO. His peers encouraged him to consider taking more beds, and he didn’t. We think this relationship with the marshals is going to better for us in the future.”

Gerken did not return a request for comment.

CCNO must act to make certain the future is secure, Dennis said. “And incrementally, we need to build a base of revenue we can do it” he said.

Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller, a CCNO board member, said Gerken knows the facility’s members bid for beds each July. This year, he asked the board for two extensions.

“On Oct. 4, he still couldn’t make his mind up. And we were trying to get a budget put together,” he said. “We’re not a motel. You can’t operate that way to keep CCNO fiscally sound.”

The ongoing relationship between CCNO and Toledo and Lucas County has been tedious, Miller said. He said the goal is to keep CCNO in operation.

“We have to move on,” he said. “The writing’s on the wall. At some point, they’re going to leave. We can’t continue to play the game. At some point, we have to look out for ourselves.”

Staff report