Fort Payne Council authorizes legal action against DeKalb County (VIDEO)
February 21, 2017
Southern Torch (3842 articles)

Fort Payne Council authorizes legal action against DeKalb County (VIDEO)

PHOTO: City Attorney Rocky Watson discusses the dispute regarding the County’s decision to implement fees for the housing of prisoners in the county jail. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — After a months long dispute with the county commission, the City of Fort Payne has authorized legal action against the county. The disagreement stemmed from the DeKalb County Commission’s decision to implement a $20 per day, per prisoner fee on the cities to house municipal inmates.

“Several years ago before the jail was built, based on the representation by the county commission, we, being the cities, would have a free place to house our prisoners,” City Attorney Rocky Watson explained during the meeting.

“The cities supported the passing of legislation which imposed a $40 per case court cost in every case in DeKalb County. I’m not sure that’s limited to criminal cases,” Watson continued.

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“I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think it applies to every divorce case and every civil case also. All that money goes to the county commission in order to pay for the jail,” said Watson.

Before the first of the year, the county commission decided to delay the implementation of the fee until April 1, 2017. Fort Payne plans to stick to it’s guns that an earlier law already allocates money from the cities to pay for the housing of inmates.

The legislation in question, Act 2001-489, which applies only to DeKalb County, states, “Additional court costs in the amount of forty dollars ($40) to be assessed and taxed as cost on each civil case and on each criminal case, including traffic cases, but excluding small claims cases, filed in the circuit court, district court, or any municipal court in DeKalb County.”

The DeKalb County Commission has maintained, that while the $40 fee can be used for operating costs, the bond issue on the new jail must be paid first, and the existing fee is used to pay the $600,000.00 yearly bond on the jail.

Titled Resolution 2017-13, the measure passed unanimously. While the resolution authorizes action, it doesn’t mean that the city has sued the county, but that they will if the fee is implemented as is. According to Watson, Fort Payne won’t be the only city to authorize legal action.

“Fortunately, it doesn’t effect Fort Payne as much as it does the other cities out in the county,” Watson said.

“I talked to the city attorney in Rainsville and they plan to pass it, the city of Ider will pass it soon in a special meeting, and the rest will pass it in due-course,” he said.

“Hopefully this authorization will never be used, and we’ll work out something that everyone can live with before April 1st,” Watson said.

Other business addressed by the council:

  • Approved an Alcohol license for El Rey Mexican Restaurant at 904 Gault Ave North.
  • Approved Economic Development agreement with Chick-Fil-A, Inc.
  • Authorized the city attorney to file validation proceedings with the Circuit Court to confirm the legality of the agreement with Chick-Fil-A, Inc.
  • Authorized adoption of the DeKalb County Emergency Management Plan.
  • Authorized bids with local businesses for new police vehicles.

The next meeting of the Fort Payne City Council will be Tuesday, March 7.


Southern Torch

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