By a 3-2 vote, Carson City supervisors on Thursday denied a request by the Carson City Sheriff's Department to begin charging inmates for their stay at the city's jail.
Sheriff Kenny Furlong said the decision was a disappointment.
"This is the first time I've ever seen a government agency say 'no' to reimbursements," he said. "The only losers today are the taxpayers."
In the plan presented to supervisors, non-indigent inmates would pay a $50 processing fee and a $25-a-day room and board fee if convicted of the crimes for which they were arrested. Currently Lyon and Washoe counties charge inmates for their time incarcerated. The money collected under Furlong's plan would go into the Carson City general fund.
Supervisors Richard Staub and Shelly Aldean were in favor of implementing the plan on a trial basis, but Robin Williamson, Pete Livermore and Mayor Ray Masayko wanted more research done before committing to the program.
"What's the opportunity for a fresh start?" Williamson asked. "Does it help the community to have someone who's made a mistake, paid their debt to society and then get out of jail and have a huge bill?"
Livermore said he was concerned that inmates who could pay would ignore the bill, causing a judgment to be made against them that would lead to employers garnishing their wages.
"It's irresponsible of us to draft 'trial' public policy," he said.
Masayko said his concern was whether the revenue generated would be worth the costs of running the program.
"What the board is looking for is answers that can't be provided without implementing the system," Furlong said.
He said there would be no costs in the implementation because the system is already in place and can be run by existing staff in the jail and Debt Recovery Unit.
Furlong said he doesn't plan to further research the program as suggested to him by supervisors, nor will he bring it back before the board.
"It's the board's decision, not mine," he said. "This program doesn't financially benefit my department, it benefits the city.
"The research is done. We've already tested the system, it's already online. It works. I would hope in the future the board does address it again."