Blytheville Finance Committee chairman and City Councilman Tommy Abbott anticipates a settlement with the county on the jail fees issue soon.
"We're going to get that solved really quickly this year," Abbott said during Monday's Blytheville Finance Committee meeting. "I know that's something that we're already looking at. I've seen some correspondence between attorneys and we're going to come to a conclusion on that and get it settled really quickly. I think that's something everybody will be glad to see happen, around this table, in the mayor's office and in the county as well."
Councilwoman Missy Langston asked if Mayor James Sanders is waiting on Council members to respond to the county attorney on an apparent offer being proposed.
"There is a letter from an attorney that now is probably something that we are going to need to look at really quickly," Abbott said. "Our attorney is in contact with the county's attorney. I think what the mayor intends to do is have a conference call and basically have a proposal that he can bring to us to approve."
Abbott anticipates that the city will enter into an agreement where it pays the county one lump sum, "as much as we can justify to pay them at that one lump sum," and then enter into an agreement to pay them monthly until "that's all done," while being current in the future on jail fees.
Councilman R.L. Jones started the discussion by asking what the city owes the county on jail fees.
Police Chief Ross Thompson said he received statements from the county last week for four months that wrap up 2012 billing. He is in the process of reconciling them.
Last May, the county filed a suit claiming that Blytheville owed approximately $600,000 in jail fees.
According to figures Abbott received from the city's finance department, as of May 12, 2012, Blytheville owes $510,821.11. On Thursday, Abbott said the Finance Department received no jail fee bills from June through December, though it was unclear whether the county didn't send the bills or the Police Department has yet to forward reconciled versions to the Finance Department.
Monday, Abbott noted he is hopeful the city will get jail bills each month, which would make it easier to reconcile.