Lumberton pays off jail debt to Lamar County

Lumberton pays off jail debt to Lamar County
Lamar County Jail

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - UPDATE: According to Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel, The City of Lumberton paid off their jail debt Friday morning. Rigel said a check was dropped off at the department the morning after Seven On Your Side's initial report.

Report behind the prior debt:  

The Lamar County Jail in Purvis houses inmates from around the county, including some from the city of Hattiesburg.

Each one of those inmates comes with a price tag, which allows them to be cared for.

"We charge $20 a day and that's to all the municipalities (of) Lumberton, Purvis, Sumrall and Hattiesburg," Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said. "That pays for, supposedly pays for their care, but it doesn't come close, but I mean that's about the standard rate."

The city of Lumberton has gone roughly a year without paying for its portion of inmates, which comes to a debt that is just shy of $20,000.

It is $19,792.35 to be exact.

"Every month we send the bill, and we haven't received payment, so finally I had to get with the board of supervisors and the board attorney and they are formulating a plan to get that bill paid," Rigel said.

Lamar County Board of Supervisors Attorney Perry Phillips confirmed that Lumberton does have an outstanding debt to the county jail, and the board is addressing that issue.

Rigel said it was part of an understanding that Lumberton officials would pay the bill.

"About a year ago I was approached by the city leaders down in Lumberton," Rigel said. "They said they were experiencing financial difficulties, and when they received the bill, they said can we have a little bit of time to pay it. Not that they weren't going to pay it, but they just needed a little bit of time."

A year later, Lumberton still has a debt with the jail and county officials said it is time to pay.

"It's finally gotten to the point of where we need to bring the account up to where it needs to be," Rigel said.

According to Lumberton Mayor Ben Winston, the city now has the money to settle the debt.

With checks in hand, Winston rattled off the amount they owe.

"On the medical bill, hospital bill and on the inmates, we owe them $3,232.35, and on the regular jail bill 16,560.00," Winston said. "Got both of the checks here, and these checks were not written after (Seven on Your Side) called me, these checks were written before you called me."

Winston said it did take some time to come up with the funds to pay the debt.

"We had to be sure that we had the money, and we got the money from the accumulation of revues coming in that helped us out a whole lot, especially some that was unexpected from Azalea Gardens," Winston said.

If the city does not pay its debt, the repercussions are undecided at this time, but county officials and the board attorney are continuing to resolve the matter.

Winston said that he would be making that payment Thursday.

However, as of 5 p.m. and the closing of the county accounting office, no payment had been received.