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Senate approves bill to aid regional jails and substance abuse programs

Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Senate approved a bill Wednesday that will help counties with their regional jail bills and build a fund for substance abuse treatment.

Senate Bill 526, which is similar to House Bill 4117, would give county clerk offices the ability to impose an additional county excise tax for the privilege of transferring a title at not more than the current state code allowance of $1.10 for each $500 in value of the property, with approval from the county commission.

Half the proceeds would support the regional jail, which in the case of Cabell, Wayne, Putnam and Mason counties is the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.

Cabell County Manager Chris Tatum said he has been following the legislation because of how it would help the commission's budget.

"We stand to gain up to $400,000 on that bill," Tatum said. "It would help us offset the jail costs."

The Cabell County Commission pays more than $3 million on the jail annually, Tatum said. The money primarily would help the county deal with the annual increases in jail costs.

"Jail bills have increased over the past several months," he said. "We have enough money to pay for it. But the fact is it would provide relief."

The other half of the proceeds would support local substance abuse programs. The bill states that county commissioners, the sheriff and chief circuit judge would determine how to disperse the substance abuse treatment funds. But dollars would have to be used in the county where it was collected.

Short- and long-term residential treatment, outpatient programs and community corrections substance abuse treatment programs, along with ethics case management-based addiction programs all would qualify.

Cabell County has several treatment options, most notably Prestera Center and The Healing Place.