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City increases inmate fee

Housing prisoners from outside agencies provides needed revenues for the city of Enumclaw, just as it does for all departments with more jail cells than inmates.

That sum stands to increase in 2011, as members of the City Council increased the nightly fee from $55 to $60, effective Jan. 1.

The rate increase was part of the council’s Aug. 9 agenda and was explained by Police Chief Jim Zoll. He said the department recently reviewed charges assessed by other regional cities and found Enumclaw sitting in the lower end of the spectrum. In a field of 12 cities, the highest daily jail rate was charged by Marysville, which charges customers more than $86 daily; the best deal is offered by Auburn at $59.

Enumclaw has not increased its daily jail rate since 2006.

By increasing the rate from $55 to $60, the Enumclaw Police Department will generate an additional $18,000 annually, Zoll said.

The money does not stay with the department, but goes to the city’s general fund. The general fund supports most city functions, with public safety being a major recipient of its dollars.

The proposed rate hike was addressed now, Zoll said, so contract cities can plan for the additional cost in their 2011 budgets.

During a later interview, Zoll said his department has list of more than two dozen agencies that occasionally send inmates to the Enumclaw jail. A handful of those are steady customers, he said.

During the Aug. 9 council session, Councilman Mike Ennis asked what it costs the city to house an inmate from another jurisdiction. Councilman Jeff Beckwith replied that the cost is less than $20, largely because food is secured for about $8 per day. City Attorney Mike Reynolds later noted food costs are kept low because meals are provided through the Department of Corrections.

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