Livingston County Board members listen to a presentation during their latest meeting./Photo by WJEZ
By Todd Wineburner
A proposal to hire two new guards at the Livingston County Jail prompted a series of questions at the last Livingston County Board meeting Thursday. Jail Administrator Bill Cox and Sheriff Marty Meredith requested the additional staff, saying the hires will improve morale, reduce overtime, and help the turnover rate. Board member Carolyn Gerwin, however, ultimately voted against the proposal. Even though the jail is currently generating revenue by housing out-of-county inmates, Gerwin says she isn’t convinced that expanding the staff is the right move. Gerwin said after the meeting that she was actually in favor of the new hires prior to the board’s discussion, but she said she needed more assurances than she ultimately got. A major part of the proposal was that the salaries of the new hires would be covered through revenue generated by housing out-of-county inmates in the Livingston County jail, with most of those inmates currently coming from Cook County. Gerwin had concerns about the fact that the arrangement with Cook County is not a permanent agreement, and she never heard solid figures about pension costs for the new hires, and other associated expenses. Board member Bill Flott also voted against the proposal. He said he’s in favor of appropriate staffing at the jail, but he’s not convinced that the county is getting the most from housing out-of-county inmates. Flott says that Cook County spends about 134 dollars per day to house inmates in their own facilities, but when they move those inmates to Pontiac, they pay only 50 dollars per inmate per day. Flott thinks the arrangement should be more favorable to Livingston County’s interests. The measure ultimately did pass. In other business, the board heard presentations from the Health and Sheriff’s departments, and modified the county’s liquor ordinance to accommodate video poker machines at a Country Club in Dwight.