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Inmate fees on the rise in Berkeley County

February 13, 2001|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

Inmate fees on the rise in Berkeley County



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Inmate fees at the Eastern Regional Jail will increase by about 9 percent, and a Berkeley County Commissioner said the commission will either have to pass a tax increase or cut services to pay for it.

The cost to house an inmate at the regional jail will increase from $39.50 a day to $43.25 a day beginning July 1, Commission President Howard Strauss said.

Strauss said it's going to cost the commission about $200,000 to offset the fee hike.

"That's not looking at any additional inmates," Strauss said.

If the commission budgets extra money for an anticipated increase in inmates, the figure could jump by another $100,000, Strauss said.

The fee increase was approved Monday by the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, Strauss said.

Steve Canterbury, executive director of the authority, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon.

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The cost to house Berkeley County offenders at the jail along W.Va. 9 east of Martinsburg currently costs the commission about $2 million a year, Strauss said.

The commissioners will start talking about how to deal with the jail fee increase as they start to put together their budget in coming weeks, Strauss said.

He said the commission could be forced to put together a "bread and water budget."

Strauss would not say whether he believes the commission will approve a tax hike.

"It's up to the commission," he said.

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