Seven cities in South King County have a contract with the SCORE (South Correctional Entity) jail in Des Moines. Courtesy photo

Seven cities in South King County have a contract with the SCORE (South Correctional Entity) jail in Des Moines. Courtesy photo

Federal Way will exit regional jail agreement to save money

Rising operational costs are cited for the proposal; the city still owes millions for the facility’s construction.

Federal Way will cut ties with South King County’s regional jail in response to the rising cost of jailing offenders.

At the Sept. 4 council meeting, Mayor Jim Ferrell proposed the city provide notice that it will leave a seven-city interlocal agreement with South Correctional Entity (SCORE) regional jail.

Federal Way had entered into this agreement in 2009 to help lower the cost of housing prisoners. Six other cities were part of the agreement: Burien, Auburn, SeaTac, Tukwila, Des Moines and Renton. The jail is located in Des Moines.

In 2012, Federal Way and the police department had an annual jail budget of just over $2 million, according to report by Police Chief Andy Hwang.

Now that annual budget is nearly $6.5 million, including nearly $1 million of capital contribution costs for the jail’s construction, according to the report.

“By withdrawing from SCORE and [utilizing] other jail facilities, the projected annual jail expenditures will be $4,330,300,” the staff report reads.

This could potentially save the city $2.1 million a year, with the city instead utilizing locations like King County Jail for $189 per bed daily, Nisqually Jail at $95 per bed daily, and Yakima Jail at $58 per bed daily.

The city is currently paying SCORE $260 per bed daily, which Ferrell said was more expensive than hosting prisoners at the Courtyard Marriott.

When the interlocal agreement was first established, Federal Way was paying 17 percent of the capital contribution, or around $935,000 annually toward the construction of the jail. This cost is included in the current SCORE budget, totaling $6,415,972.

Hwang referred to the increased budget for SCORE jail as a “financial burden that is unsustainable” if the city remains in the interlocal agreement.

Although Federal Way City Council voted to leave the SCORE agreement, the city will still be required to pay $935,000 annually toward construction of the SCORE building for the next 21 years, said city communications coordinator Tyler Hemstreet. Ferrell also confirmed this during the council meeting.

Ferrell has been in contact with each of the mayors in the other six cities in the agreement to inform them of Federal Way’s intent to leave, Hemstreet said.

According to SCORE’s website, the jail houses 802 beds for prisoners and reduces costs per-bed-per-day by 30 percent compared to other jails in the area.

SCORE’s daily costs are determined by a city’s average daily population (ADP). Cities with higher ADPs would pay more than cities with lower numbers.

When the agreement first began, Federal Way’s ADP was 60, but has increased to 80 and higher since 2012, with the highest ADP being 91 in 2015, according to the report.

Federal Way’s ADP increase combined with other cities in the agreement lowering their ADP have caused the cost to increase drastically.

The proposal to leave SCORE coincided with the mayor’s presentation of the first draft of the 2019 biennium budget at the council meeting, detailing the city’s costs and expenditures for the financial year 2019-2020.

The finalized budget will be released in November. More details about the drafted budget are to come.

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