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County won’t get cut of fee from banking kiosk

September 9, 2010
By LYDIA COTTRELL lcottrell@timesobserver.com
Warren County will not get a cut of the fees collected from a inmate banking kiosk located in the county jail. However, the Warren County Commissioners are now agreeable with that fact. At their Wednesday morning meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Digital Solutions Inc. (DSI), the company that is contracted to provide and service the inmate banking kiosk. The commissioners first discussed the agreement in July but were puzzled by the transaction fees collected by the company when family members or friends of inmates placed money in the inmate’s account using the kiosk. At the time, Commissioner Chairman John Eggleston wondered why the county wasn’t getting a cut of the fees collected. “Those fees were the subject of discussions amongst the commissioners,” Commissioner John Bortz said at the meeting. According to Eggleston, the commissioners have since had a phone conversation with officials at DSI. The company explained that the fees pay for the overhead costs of maintaining the system and the credit card fees the company accrues. The fees for making deposits at the machine range from a flat $2.50 charge for cash only deposits and from $4 for a credit or debit card deposit of up to $50 to $11.50 for a card deposit of $200.01 to $300. “The only way we get additional revenue...we would have to add more charges,” Eggleston said. “We didn’t feel like we wanted to do that.” Commissioner Terry Hawk noted, “It does relieve our staff from having to deal with this.” However, Hawk was still concerned with the range of the fees. He suggested that the jail staff place a sign at the kiosk outlining the cost of the fees. “There’s a hell of a difference between a $2.50 fee and $11.50 for a $300 deposit,” he said. Deputy Warden Steve Smith said the kiosk shows the user a fee schedule and the user must agree to the fees before depositing money. Smith later explained that the money placed in the inmate accounts is used to pay for phone calls and various items ranging from hygiene products to pens and notebooks. “Or they can pay the fee we are going to charge for medical (services),” Eggleston added. In other business, Forest-Warren Human Services Director Mary Kushner asked the commissioners to stray from their tradition of not doing official business at work sessions to sign the Children and Youth Services budget on Sept. 13. Kushner explained that the deadline set by the Pennsylvania Office of Children, Youth and Families was moved up from Nov. 1 to Sept. 15. “We’re not asking for anymore county dollars,” she noted. Although work sessions are largely informational meetings, Bortz said the extraordinary warranted the exception. “We will make time available for (public) comments,” Eggleston added. The commissioners also: ¯ approved the nomination of Warren City Director of Public Works Mike Holtz as a member of the Northwest Transportation Advisory Committee. ¯ paid bills totalling $87,459. ¯ approve a revision to the 2006 Community Development Block Grant funds for the allocation of $9,500 to a restroom and concession stand project at the ballfield in Tidioute. ¯ awarded a contract to Innovative Construction and Mechanical of Clarendon for the construction of the restroom and concession stand at the Tidioute ballfield for the cost of $24,950.
 
 

 

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