Businesses that are owed money will frequently mail out reminders to customers who are behind in paying their bills. And while the Marion County Jail is not a business, Sheriff Jimmy Shinn has taken note of money that is owed it by other jurisdictions and is taking steps to recoup those funds.

Businesses that are owed money will frequently mail out reminders to customers who are behind in paying their bills. And while the Marion County Jail is not a business, Sheriff Jimmy Shinn has taken note of money that is owed it by other jurisdictions and is taking steps to recoup those funds.

“I sent out reminder notices to different jurisdictions that we have housed inmates on change-of-venue cases which we have not been paid back for their jail time yet,” he said. “It was basically a billing statement that says that jurisdiction owes ‘X’ amount of dollars for holding their prisoner.”

At the Jan. 17 Marion County Commission meeting Shinn reported that nine jurisdictions owed the county money as a result of housing their prisoners. The amount of money owed the county is no trifling sum.

“It’s approximately $93,000, which is a significant amount,” said the sheriff.

Responses to Shinn’s reminders have been mixed.

“We have received some of that (money owed) back,” he said. “However, on some of them, like down in Boone County and also St. Charles County, I have not received any followup from them and neither has the treasurer. I’ll be following up again with them.”

According to Shinn, St. Charles County and Boone County represent the two most distant counties from which he has housed prisoners. Marion County houses inmates for counties that either have no jail of it own or for which a change of venue has been granted.

“It’s usually for high-profile cases they want to get out of the area and that’s the reason for the change of venue,” he said.

Payment for prisoners held on a change of venue is not the only financial challenge the jail faces. According to Marion County Budget Officer Valerie Dornberger, declining revenue generated by the boarding of prisoners is a concern for the county, according to this year’s budget message.

Dornberger reported that the state only reimburses at a rate of $20.58 per day. In contrast, it costs Marion County $37.50 per day to house a prisoner.

While the county can’t do anything about the amount the state pays in reimbursement, it is working to get those funds paid sooner.

“We’re doing a better job of following up,” said Shinn. “I’ve had a meeting with both our circuit clerks (Carolyn Conners and Valerie Munzlinger). They’re actually the ones who bill the state of Missouri. I’ve stressed the importance to them of doing timely billing to the state of Missouri to get reimbursed as soon as possible for our prisoner per diem.”

Another fiscal headache at the jail noted by Dornberger in her 2017 budget message is the fact the county is finding itself housing an increasing number of its own prisoners. That means there is less room to accommodate federal prisoners, whose per diem is $55 per day, or prisoners from other counties, which pay $37.50 per day in reimbursement.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com