County Council OKs plan for sheriff's office to manage jail

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During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sumter County Council approved final reading of an ordinance to allow the Sumter County sheriff to operate Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center.

County council Chairman Jim McCain said council began looking at its options to hire a new detention center administrator after Simon Major, the former administrator, resigned in June.

During that process, Sheriff Anthony Dennis sent a letter expressing his interest in managing the jail, he said.

McCain said Sumter's council discussed the matter with members of Lee County's council as well as Lee County Sheriff Danny Simon, and all parties agreed that transferring the operations of the detention center to the Sumter County sheriff would be best.

The majority of county jails in the state are managed by each county's sheriff's office, McCain said. Also, Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon reached out to other counties, and this kind of arrangement seems to be successful, he said.

This was the best route to go, McCain said.

Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney recused herself from voting on the matter during all three readings because her husband, Daryl McGhaney, is assistant administrator of the detention center.

Council also approved third and final reading of an ordinance to amend the building permit fees for commercial and residential projects.

City-County Building Department Director Steve Campbell presented his request to increase the building permits and fees to council in July. He said the department was losing revenue because some contractors were taking advantage of the costs to have properties re-inspected.

At the time of Campbell's request, re-inspection fees were $25 while the cost to conduct an inspection was about $57, according to Campbell.

The re-inspection fee has been increased to $50.

The approved ordinance will also increase the cost of a residential building permit from a $30 minimum to a $50 minimum, and the cost of a commercial building permit will increase from a $45 minimum to a $60 minimum.

The fee and permit changes went into effect after council approved final reading of the ordinance on Tuesday evening.

Sumter City Council approved the same fee increases for building projects within the city limits during its meeting on June 20.