Hall County will not renew a contract with Lula to supervise inmate labor in the city.
Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said that the current agreement with the county ends Friday.
“It came as a surprise to us,” Bergin said this week, after informing the city council of the county’s decision.
Bergin said the contract that ends Friday pays the county $49,000 to oversee inmate labor in city limits. Lula and the county have had the arrangement for about five years, he added.
The Lula City Council approved a new contract with the county that included a 2 percent increase to a little more than $50,000 for the use of the county’s correctional officer.
“We submitted (the contract) to them and they notified us that the commission decided not to sign off on that agreement,” Bergin said. “They recommend we hire our own correctional officer and they would supply the inmate labor.”
Bergin said he did not think the county’s action was retribution for Lula not signing the Service Delivery Strategy agreement that the state requires from the county and its cities. Lula and the county have been at odds over sewer service delivery, as well as a 2006 sewer agreement signed between them that Lula claims the county violated.
“The reason I say no I don’t feel (it’s retribution) is because the city of Gainesville provides their own correctional officers, as well as Oakwood and Flowery Branch,” Bergin said. “So, it’s been a practice that up to this point we didn’t have to consider.”
Bergin said the city uses inmate labor almost every day Monday through Friday. He said they are mostly used in landscaping.
“They do an enormous amount of work,” he said.
Bergin said city council will weigh its options, including hiring its own correctional officer.