Missouri’s failure to pay bills could force law enforcement layoffs

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Missouri state law requires our local sheriff’s departments to be paid $22.58 per inmate per day. It’s just a fraction of what it really costs our local jails but the state’s not paying its share.

“For the last three years, at least, we’ve had this backlog of reimbursements from the state and it’s grown over the course of time and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon,” said St. Charles County Budget Director Bob Schnur.

Schnur says it’s putting a tremendous strain on local budgets.

“It’s a bad light, actually, on a state to treat people who are providing services for you that way,” he said. “That’s a significant problem, I think, for the image of the state.”

According to the Missouri Sheriff’s Association, more than $35 million. The Association has calculated the following:

  • St. Charles County alone is owed $994,543
  • St. Louis City is owed $3,563,697
  • St. Louis County is owed $3,958,451

It could mean law enforcement layoffs, like in Lewis County, which is about two hours north of St. Louis.

“This is about human beings and people’s safety and we need to remember that the local law-abiding citizen needs to be protected,” said Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish.

Parrish is also the President of the Missouri Sheriffs Association, which is fighting for the money the state owes.

“Since 2000, (the state has) never fully paid counties, what I like to say is, what the law-abiding taxpayer is owed,” he said.

Parrish said the feds pay their bills for inmates.

“The federal law enforcement through the US Marshals, they pay their bills on time, they pay their counties $65-$75 a day for inmates,” he said. “The state of Missouri, they’re only required to pay counties $22.58 a day and can’t seem to come up with the money to do that.”

A Missouri Department of Corrections spokesperson acknowledged the state hasn't kept up with its bills. She says the state is about nine months behind in making payments to counties. The DOC says it's not them but rather legislators aren't giving them enough money to pay the bills.

The Missouri Sheriff's Association says if it's not fixed, we could see law enforcement layoffs across the state.

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