With “backs against the wall” budget committee approves bed rate increase for Juvenile Detention service

Published 10:53 pm Monday, March 14, 2022

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Carter County will be paying nearly $20 more per day to house juveniles in the regional detention center.
The Carter County Budget Committee on Monday approved the per diem increase requested by ElyJenn Health Services, LLC, which operates the Juvenile Detention Center servicing nine counties in Northeast Tennessee. The daily rate increased to $230.47 per juvenile per day, an increase of $19.24 per juvenile effective March 1.
“They have us against the wall with a gun and we have no other choices,” said Commissioner Brad Johnson.
Representatives of the company said the increased expense will be used to help retain employees.
“One hundred percent of this increased compensation will be paid along to our employees,” said Mike White in a letter sent to the Detention Board of Directors on Feb. 10. “We feel the compensation adjustment is necessary for ElyJenn Health Services, LLC to continue to provide quality, effective, and competitive management services.”
If the commissioners had not agreed to accept the increase, the health services could have filed a 60-day notice to end the contract, forcing the county to house juveniles in Knoxville, said county attorney Josh Hardin.
Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby reminded the commissioners that the juveniles today “are serious criminals and not just runaways”.
The vote was 7-1 with Commissioner Travis Hill voting no.
“I just can’t vote for something that is going to give their employees a $2 to $3 raise on the hour when we can’t even give our own employees that type of raise,” said Hill.
Both parties can re-negotiate the contract on Sept. 1 as the five-year contract expires on Aug. 31.
In other business, the committee also agreed to:
  • declare a Homesteader cargo trailer as surplus so it can be sold on Govdeals.com.
  • declare a building on the Sluder Property as surplus so it can be placed on Govdeals.com.
  • approved a request by the Mayor’s office for review and approval of a resolution to be approved by the Carter County Commission for a Community Development Block Grant application for the Hampton Utility District.
  • defer a request from the sheriff’s department for $315,000 for the purchase of seven vehicles from reserve account 101 Q34625-038 Excess Board Bill until the April Budget Committee meeting.
  • approve monetary donations in the amount of $4,835 for the Animal Shelter.
  • approve non-monetary donations in the amount of $136.73 from Walmart for the animal shelter.
During the Nominating Committee meeting that followed, the commissioners voted 6-2 to place Joseph Miller on the Planning Commission for a four-year term. The full commission will vote next week to approve Miller’s appointment.
Beverly Matherly received an 8-0 vote to maintain her appointment to the Equalization Board.
The Budget Committee will be meeting at 6:15 p.m. on March 29 for its first budget hearing for the new fiscal year 2022-2023.

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