Missouri lawmakers to discuss state's debt to county jails

CAMDENTON, Mo. The State of Missouri is behind on paying nearly $40 million in daily reimbursements for housing inmates charged with state crimes.

That debt will be the topic of discussion with lawmakers in Jefferson City Tuesday.

Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms says the county has collected about $170,000 from the state, but that's just some of the money the county is owed.

"We have a deficit of $315,000 they owe the Camden County Government," Helms said.

Camden County is not alone. The state budgeted nearly $1.7 million to go to counties the state is late paying reimbursements to.

"If they're $34 million in arrears, they allocated $1.7 million to make up those arrears, that doesn't touch it," Helms said. "That's not a drop in the bucket."

The Missouri Department of Corrections is expected to testify to lawmakers on Tuesday, and many county sheriffs from around the state are expected to be at the hearing.

The State Of Missouri is supposed to pay each county that holds inmates on state charges $22 per day. This reimbursement money typically goes right to the county's general funds and is used for department budgets and expenses.

Helms says he's glad lawmakers are going to talk about the problem, which he says is their job to fix.

"This could end up costing the local citizens more money," Helms said. "I don't think it's their obligation or duty to pay for that, but somebody's going to have to pay it."

The committee hearing is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol in Jefferson City.