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Updated Jul 17, 2014 - 1:58 pm

US rejects Arizona county’s proposal on detainee payments

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — In a development that could cost some Pinal County
jail employees their jobs, the federal government has rejected the county
proposal that it be paid more to house immigration detainees.

The county had notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April that it
would terminate the county’s money-losing contract unless the federal agency
accepted the county’s proposal to raise the daily per-detainee payment rate.

County officials learned of the rejection on Tuesday, just 10 days before the
contract’s expiration, the Casa Grande Dispatch
reported.

The county intended for the contract initially signed in 2006 to help pay for
construction of the new jail. However, county officials say it has turned out
that the county’s taxpayers have been subsidizing federal costs for detention.

The county proposed increasing the daily rate per detainee to $87.96 from
$59.64.

The number of detention officers and employees who could lose their jobs as a
result of the contract’s cancellation has not been determined, but county
officials’ estimates in the past have ranged from 100 to nearly 200.

County Supervisor Steve Miller said that canceling the contract could save the
county up to $3 million annually.

“We just approved a 2.5 percent raise for our employees that cost us about
$2.5 million, so if we can save $3 million a year, that would help right
there,” Miller said.

The Board of Supervisors in June approved a new reduction in force policy, in
part as a contingency in the event of the contract’s termination.

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