The Big Sandy Regional Detention Center board recently voted against a motion to file a lawsuit against Martin County for the approximately $200,000 the county owes the jail for boarding fees.
The vote came after BSRDC Board chair Zach Branham made a motion to file the lawsuit.
“I’d like to make a motion to file suit or bring whatever we have to do against Martin County to try to get paid,” Branham said. “They’re bonded, maybe we can get it under bond, but they’re $206,000 (in debt) as of today.”
BSRDC Administrator F.D. “Pete” Fitzpatrick voiced an alternative given that Martin County had elected a new judge-executive in November. Bill “BillBo” Davis will take office in January, replacing former 21-year Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham.
“We’ve got a new judge coming in,” Fitzpatrick said. “Could we maybe have a meeting … go talk to him? If we talk to him, maybe we can get a payment schedule.”
Outgoing Jailer Doug Saylor seconded the motion, noting that the board had been successful in recouping debts in this fashion before.
“The last time we did this, it was successful in collecting,” Saylor said. “I will second that.”
Objections were voiced across the board, and Branham said it shouldn’t be an issue for the new judge because the situation was created during Callaham’s term.
“It’s not against the new judge,” Branham said. “We’re bringing suit against the old judge, so the new judge should actually like it. We can’t keep letting it get bigger and bigger … we’ve got to do something.”
The board moved for a roll call on the issue and received “No” votes from five of the nine members, including Chairman James Ayers.
“No, and I would add that I think it’s abhorrent that we would consider suing am ... owner county of this institute,” Ayers said.
The motion was denied and this led to the board voting to disperse $50,000 to each of the founding counties of the jail and to credit that $50,000 towards Martin County’s debt instead.
The board discussed making arrangements after Davis’ inauguration to arrange a meeting with the new Martin County judge-executive and discuss the debt.
The Big Sandy Regional Detention Center Board meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the jail and all meetings are open to the public.