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Fulton begins removing inmates from Halls jail
Transfers over budget concerns could limit boarding revenue
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A budget shortfall in Fulton County could affect Hall County's finances as well.

Fulton County has begun removing some of its inmates from the Hall jail and transferring them back to its own jail, Hall County Sheriff's Office officials said Friday.

Housing inmates from Fulton has been a main source of revenue for the Hall County Jail's boarding program.
Fulton's outsourcing budget was recently cut in an effort to create a balanced budget. The decision was made because the county's jail population has been on the decline due to a decrease in arrests, said Tracy Flanagan, public information officer for the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

The result of those board-in removals could impact the future of Hall County's budget.

In 2010, Fulton paid Hall $3,681,720 to house its inmates. Hall County charges Fulton $36 per day per inmate if it houses more than 100 and $45 per day if there are fewer than 100.

Receipts for fiscal 2011 show the boarding program pulled in $6,199,352.54, above the budgeted amount of $5,550,000.

Both counties were unable to provide an exact figure of the number of inmates that have been removed from the Hall County Jail since the budget cuts were made, but officials said more than 30 were transferred on Thursday alone.

Hall County Budget Manager Jeremy Perry said the move will not affect the current year's budget, but if Fulton continues to board-out a reduced inmate population, the impact could be significant in future years.

"We're not going lose a lot this year, it's next year that will be hit the most," he said.

The county has collected $2.9 million through the program during the current fiscal year, compared to the $3.2 million collected at the same time in fiscal 2011.

The revenues are expected to meet the budgeted amount of $5,550,000, but probably not surpass it, officials said.

Hall County Sheriff's Office Financial Director Scott Collison also said the biggest impact will be in future years if there is no solution to the lost revenue. He said board-in revenues have been decreasing gradually for the past two months.

"They come and go all the time but it seems that the coming has not been as much as the going, and our numbers are going down," Collison said. "If, in fact, the (Fulton inmates) are not going to come back then we have to look at what we project for next year."

Sheriff Steve Cronic said he will contact Fulton sheriff's officials to discuss their possible future of boarding-in with the Hall County Jail.

"If this turns out to be a permanent trend with what Fulton County is doing ... we would have to go back to our expenses related to the program and then adjust them according," Cronic said.

Forsyth County inmates are the second most prevalent board-in prisoners at the Hall County Jail with an average daily population of more than 100, according to jail documents.

Messages seeking comment from the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office were not returned Friday.

Hall County Jail Commander Capt. Mark Bandy said Forsyth has remained steady with its number of board-in inmates at the jail.

Cronic said there have also been discussion with other counties to board their inmates even before Fulton began removing its prisoners.

"It's been very competitive and, of course, with a set number of inmates available for boarding, it's a lot of competition for those particular inmates," Cronic said.

Some of those discussions have been with Gwinnett County, Collison said.

Gwinnett County houses many of its inmates in the Pelham City Jail at a cost of $22 per day per inmate.

Sheriff's office officials said they will continue to explore all options, but no solution has been decided.

"We don't have anybody waiting to fill that big Fulton County spot, that's for sure," Collison said.


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