Cass Co. Not Expected to Renew Inmate Housing Contract with Crow Wing Co.
Cass County is expected to not renew its contract to house jail inmates in the Crow Wing County Jail. However, the move wouldn’t take place immediately, and it would come with a six-month notice to give Crow Wing County time to look at its options.
“[Cass County has] been able to find a better price with Itasca County, and so what I understand is they will be going to housing inmates at Itasca County,” said Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle.
The move, if approved, would create a $1 million hole in Crow Wing County’s budget. While $1 million, about 1% of the county’s annual budget, may seem insignificant, that drop could ultimately cost people jobs within the jail.
“So, is there a crisis? No. Is it significant? Yes,” said Houle. “We have two things we can work on: we can either work on the revenue side of the budget and try to replace the lost revenue, or we have to work on the expense side of the budget and reduce our expenses, which often means personnel.”
Crow Wing County is working on the revenue side of the budget before turning its attention to the expense side of it, where they’re increasing their rate for housing inmates from $62 to $75 per person per day – a substantial change, but far from a new one.
“It’s a significant change for the jail, but it is not a new thing. We rent beds and have been renting beds out since this jail opened,” said Houle. “Cass County is not the only place that we have rented beds to. We have residents from Stearns County in the jail right now. We also have housed inmates from the DOC, the Department of Corrections, state inmates that are soon to be leaving their sentences, so we have a lot of experience housing other peoples inmates, and we’re going to use that experience to try to market ourselves as a great alternative for folks.”
The Cass County Board of Commissioners was expected to approve the move during its meeting on Tuesday.