June 11, 2016 – The Albany County Commission on Tuesday approved two contract amendments — one decreasing the cost of jail phone calls and one providing additional funding to purchase ankle monitors — and green-lighted the final plan for a three-lot subdivision.
During the commissioners’ meeting, Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said the Federal Communications Commission was regulating fees charged for inmate phone usage. Phone call services in the Albany County Detention Center are provided through a contract between Albany County and Telmate LLC, and O’Malley expects revenue will decrease under the new regulations.
“I would like to maintain in a contract with Telmate — they provide all of the phones and all of that maintenance and everything free of charge for the county,” he said. “We’ll still realize between $4,300 and $5,600 in revenue; that can fluctuate up or down either way.”
The detention center is only required to provide inmates with one call, when they are initially incarcerated, but the facility goes “way beyond that,” he said.
“We find that good food and communication with loved ones and family and being treated with dignity and respect leads to not having issues within your detention center,” he said. “With that being said, you know, Telmate is a little irritated with us at times because we allow for unlimited numbers of calls to attorneys or the public defender’s office on non-recorded lines.”
The commissioners approved an amendment to the Telmate contract that deleted the previous rates and replaced them with new rates. Among the changes: rates for prepaid and collect calls within Wyoming will be set at $0.20 and $0.45 per minute, respectively, while interstate prepaid calls will be $0.21 per minute and interstate collect calls $0.25 per minute.
The county’s 2010 service agreement divided calls into four categories: local, local toll, long distance toll and interstate, then again into prepaid and collect calls for each category. Rates were charged on a 15-minute basis; a call to another state would cost $7.50 for 15 minutes, while a local pre-paid call would cost $2.50 for 15 minutes.
“There was a point in time where we made, I think, about $16,000 annually in phone services,” O’Malley said. “And so I think it’s going down considerably.”
The commissioners also approved an amendment to a contract with the Wyoming Department of Family Services that would provide an additional $5,000 to the Albany County Community Juvenile Services Board.
The board, which the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office approved about a year ago, was formed by agreements among Albany County, the Ivinson Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, the Albany County School District No. 1 Board of Education, the town of Rock River and the city of Laramie. Its goal is to reduce the number of juveniles in the court system.
The Department of Family Services allocated roughly $63,000 to the board for the current fiscal year, which has gone toward contracts with Big Brothers Big Sisters and a new case management system, County Grants Manager Tai Wright said.
“I’m guessing what happened is towards the end of their budget cycle, (the department) noticed that they’re going to have leftover funds,” Wright said. “And so they split it equally among all counties to use with their current contract.”
Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said the funding would be used to purchase GPS ankle monitors and phone monitoring capabilities as part of a diversion program.
“We sat around and brainstormed ideas to make children be more accountable,” she said. “And one of those we felt was a tool was a GPS ankle bracelet. We’ve had some success with some challenging students, and it seems to be successful, making sure they’re getting to class, going to where they say they’re going to be. And then we’re also looking at putting some type of function on their telephones to limit their ability to do certain texting that got them in trouble to begin with.”
Inappropriate contact monitored through the phone functions would include sharing explicit photographs or intimidating other juveniles, Trent said Thursday.
The commission also approved the final plat for the Satanka Meadows Subdivision, a three-lot subdivision located off of Satanka Road. The county approved the project’s preliminary plat at its March meeting.
At that meeting, Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan requested additional studies on the project as a condition of the preliminary plat, citing concerns about a city production well in the area. The commission approved the plat as originally presented, without the suggested condition.
Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman David Cunningham said Thursday the well in question was at least 800 feet away from the development.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Tim Chesnut thanked the applicants for their preparation on the project and for keeping him informed about road improvement districts and property access.
“Working through this particular plat, you guys have done exactly what we want and need you to do, to do this in the proper way … all my questions were answered,” he said. “And I really appreciate how well-prepared you are.”