The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 9, 2012

Housing of Jasper County inmates still in dispute

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A proposal to pay a year-old bill for housing Jasper County inmates will be up for discussion — again — when the Jasper County Commission meets Tuesday.

Bill Fleischaker, attorney for Sheriff Archie Dunn, has asked for time on the agenda to discuss a proposal that a bill to Henry County be paid.

Dunn on Friday said he had submitted bills from Henry County and other counties for payment about two weeks ago, but the commission had refused to authorize the expenditures.

John Bartosh, presiding commissioner, said the commission refused to authorize the expenditures, saying Dunn has never included the payments in the budget of the Sheriff’s Department. He said he thinks the sheriff’s primary goal is to spend department revenues that would otherwise be available for Randee Kaiser, who defeated Dunn in the August primary and will succeed him in January after winning the general election on Tuesday.

“We’re in a lawsuit; I’d rather negotiate with them and see if we can reach a settlement,” he said.

Henry County officials last February filed a lawsuit against Jasper County and Dunn, seeking payment of more than $80,000 for housing prisoners from Jasper County in the spring and summer of 2011. Dunn had ordered county prisoners moved from the Carthage lockup, citing problems with overcrowding and fears of a potential lawsuit after the county was contacted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In addition to the bill from Henry County, Jasper County has received bills of $5,560 for housing prisoners in Barton County; $2,400 from Lawrence County; $1,160 from Vernon County; $180 from Davies/DeKalb County; and $275 from Platte County.

Henry County is the only one that filed suit.

Also, the sheriff said he will try to work out an arrangement with the commission on Tuesday to give his employees access to money that has been raised and donated for projects including “Shop with a Deputy,” when sheriff’s deputies take underprivileged children shopping for Christmas.

The commission earlier ordered the bank to close out an account containing more than $28,000, including more than $23,000 that had been allocated for the shopping program.

Dunn said the money comes from donations to the employee projects and from employee fundraisers, and that the commission “has said it’s not the county’s money.”

But, he said the panel has placed restrictions on how the money can be spent. A resolution passed by the panel says the money can go for reasonable and necessary expenses of the projects designated, but the commission reserves the right to review all requests for payment and reject any request that is not for the designated purposes or that is not reasonable and necessary.

“It’s not my money or the county’s money; it belongs to the employees of the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Fleischaker also questioned the commission vote on the resolution, noting the measure was not listed on the agenda for the commission meeting.

The commission wanted changes to the fund because it used the county’s tax identification number. After the commission ordered the bank to close out the fund, Fleischaker asked that the money be transferred into a new not-for-profit fund he had formed so workers could start making plans for Christmas projects.

Dunn said the new, nonprofit fund has been created and organizers have filed with the IRS for a tax identification number. He said residents who want to donate to that fund, called the “Jasper County Sheriff’s Department Employees Benevolent Fund,” may do so by sending checks to the attention of Patty Pennington at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, 2907 County Road 180, Carthage, MO 64836.

The money can be designated for “Shop with a Deputy,” or the “Sheriff’s Employees Christmas Party,” he added.

Scheduled

The general session of the Jasper County Commission is held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday in commission chambers of the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage.

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