Cost to book at county jail rising for city

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By JOSHUA WOLFSON

Tuolumne County is raising the fees it charges the City of Sonora to book inmates into the county jail.

As of Dec. 1, the city will pay $77.50 per inmate, an increase of $21.50, said county Senior Administrative Analyst Daniel Richardson.

Because it does not have its own jail, the city must cover the cost of booking people arrested by the Sonora Police Department into the Tuolumne County Jail.

The increase will probably cost Sonora in the neighborhood of $3,000 this year, estimated City Administrator Greg Applegate. In February, Sonora officials will adjust the city budget to reflect the fee change.

Last year, the city spent about $15,600 on booking fees, which is typical for an average fiscal year, he said.

Cities are normally reimbursed by the state for booking fees, and Applegate said he is fairly confident that will happen at the end of this fiscal year, June 30.

However, during this summer's budget crunch, legislators discussed eliminating the reimbursements. Given the state's ongoing financial troubles, Applegate said he is not counting on the money being available next year.

Booking fees have not been increased since 1990, Richardson said, and the new rate is based on a 13-year increase in the cost of living. A county ordinance allows such an increase without permission from the Board of Supervisors.

The change more accurately reflects the cost of booking inmates, Richardson said.

"Last year, we would not have been capturing the full cost for someone the city had booked in the city jail," he said.

However, the new fees will still not completely reimburse the county, said Howard Autry, staff services analyst for the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department. The actual cost is $87.34 to book an inmate, he said.

The Sheriff's Department will probably ask the Board of Supervisors next year to raise the fees again to equal the actual booking cost, Autry said.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at jwolfson@uniondemocrat.com .

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