03/01/10 — County will weigh two grant options

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County will weigh two grant options

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 1, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners will consider two grants at their meeting Tuesday morning at the county courthouse.

A public hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. on an amendment to the county's 2008 Community Development Block Grant for scattered site housing improvements.

The second grant issue is an application for $116,445 from the state Criminal Justice Partnership Program.

Commissioners will start their meeting with a briefing at 8 a.m. followed by the meeting at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the courthouse annex.

The Criminal Justice Partnership Program grant will be used for the Day Reporting Center for the sentenced offender program. The county has received the grant for the past 15 years.

The program's goals include reducing alcohol and drug dependencies among offenders receiving intermediate punishment; recidivism; the cost of incarceration and overcrowding at the jail; and probation revocation by 15 percent.

Another goal is to work with offenders for a 50 percent success rate in substance abuse treatment program completion.

It requires a local match of about $15,000, County Manager Lee Smith said.

"It (grant total) has come down," Smith said. "It used to be $120,000 to $130,000. We have real concerns the state will continue to drop the amount. If the state were to say to us, 'We are not going to fund that,' I don't want the state to get any big ideas, but that is a program that I would go really negotiate hard with the board of commissioners as far a return on investment. It is cheaper and sometimes better to put some of these sentenced offenders and pre-trial folks out and to allow them to work.

"Another thing, instead of somebody sitting in jail that has a substance abuse problem, they need to be educated because you want them to work. If I can get them into a substance abuse program for a few dollars a day versus $50 a day in jail where they are getting no treatment, then I might prevent that person from coming back. Our success rate runs about 35 percent. You may say that doesn't sound very high, but for statewide that is not bad."

The program is complemented by the pre-trial electronic monitoring program, he said.

"It saves us a fortune putting people on pre-trial release at $4 a day versus $50 a day in the jail," Smith said.

Day Reporting Center Director Theresa Barratt will update commissioners on center activities.

The CDBG hearing is for public comment on plans to add more people to the grant project.

The county received $400,000 in 2008 to provide housing assistance throughout the county.

In other business on the light agenda, commissioners will be asked to approve a family subdivision final plat for Vernon Bartlett.

The property consists of three lots on the south side of Dave Howell Lane near the Oakland Fire Station. It is not within a zoned area. Approval has been recommended by the Planning Board.

Chip Crumpler, of the county Planning Depart-ment, and representatives of Geographic Technologies Group will demonstrate the capabilities of the county's new Web site information access.