Franklin County commissioners are seeking legal advice to determine whether they are legally obligated to pay an additional $100,000 demanded by the state Board of Corrections for the cost of housing Franklin County inmates in Somerset County.

In response to a $1.2 million deficit faced by the state’s 15 county jails, the corrections board has adjusted payments made by the counties to the state jail system for the upcoming year. Franklin County is being billed an additional $100,000, which is roughly equal to the surplus in the county jail budget in each of the past few years.

“That’s still taxpayers’ money and I don’t agree with that,” said Fred Hardy, chairman of the Franklin County commissioners. “I’m opposed to paying it, because I don’t think we should (pay) just because we have money in the kitty, so to speak.”

As part of the state’s unified jail system, Franklin County’s jail was reduced to a 72-hour holding center. Prisoners who spend more than three days in jail are transferred to the Somerset County Jail and the county pays about $600,000 annually to the corrections board to board its prisoners.

Hardy said he wants the commissioners to consult with the county’s attorney, Frank Underkuffler, to see if the board would face any penalties if it refuses to pay the additional money.

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