FLORENCE, Ariz. — Pinal County is giving the federal government notice
that the county intends to cancel its money-losing contract to house federal
immigration detainees in the county jail.
The county Board of Supervisors voted last week to authorize a 100-day
cancellation notice, and County Manager Greg Stanley sent the notice to
Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday.
The county intended for the contract initially signed in 2006 to help pay for
construction of the new jail, but county officials say the per-day rate the
federal government pays to house hundreds of detainees at a time has turned out
to be a money-loser.
The county says it’s been nearly two months since it heard from ICE regarding
possible changes in the contract.
Every week that goes by without an agreement costs the county another
$55,000,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Antony Smith said. “To continue to run
this clock costing the taxpayers is something that I find unacceptable.”
ICE officials said they value their relationship with Pinal County but
acknowledged the sides have been unable to reach an agreement.
The agency said it was confident it could find alternate housing for detainees
if no agreement is reached with the county.
County officials don’t want to end the contract but need to make it fairer for
both sides, Stanley said. “At the current rate, Pinal County taxpayers are
subsidizing federal costs for detention.”