Inmate Housing Contracts Could Help Other Yakima County Departme - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Inmate Housing Contracts Could Help Other Yakima County Departments

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- The Yakima County Jail will soon start housing inmates from the west side of the state. County commissioners approved a one-year contract with the city of Fife for low-risk inmates.

The contract should bring in about $700,000 in additional revenue, and other county departments are hoping that money will help their finances, too.

It's the first housing contract to come from outside Yakima County since 2010, when several King County cities decided to stop sending inmates to the downtown jail.

County commissioners say it's a small but good sign.
    
"This is an up tick. We are espousing that there is genuine value in outside entities contracting with Yakima County," said Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita.

Leita hopes the $700,000 contract is just the start of things to come.

The Yakima County Jail usually houses about 600 inmates but can hold more than 800, and if housing agreements continue to come in, that money could help other departments that have taken big hits recently to keep the jail running.

"They made the tough choice for them to shift money from the road fund to the general fund to pay the debt that DOC has on couple of jails that were built," said Vern Redifer, Yakima County's director of Public Services.

He says he's excited about the new income for the county, but doesn't think the road fund will be getting it's $3-million back just yet. But, he's still hopeful.

"It's an optimism that maybe the bottom has been reached and it's only upward from here. We're not out of hole yet, but maybe we're climbing the side of the hole," Redifer said.

Along with the $3-million shift from roads, other county departments have also taken big cuts, about $1.6-million worth. And that's where Redifer thinks much of this money will go back to.

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