Instead, DeLong came up with a calculation that deducts Regional Jails' ancillary sources of revenue, including income from inmates' use of payphones and their purchases at jail commissaries, from the per-diem rate, coming up with a discount of $3.37 per day.
Asked whether that could prompt legal issues, DeLong noted, "I can't imagine anyone would challenge that we should have to do a direct interpretation, and charge more."
He added, "The counties need the relief, and it's not going to hurt us."
DeLong said the authority is working on draft legislation for the 2013 session that would change the per-diem calculation, allowing the ancillary sources of revenue to be used to discount the daily rate.
The Authority is also renegotiating the per-diem rate it charges the U.S. Marshal's Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for housing federal prisoners.
Right now, that rate is $56, and DeLong said the Authority is negotiating for a rate closer to what neighboring states charge, about $78 a day.
"I don't think we should be providing a service significantly discounted from what our surrounding states are at," he said.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.