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County's new Intake facility could save City millions of dollars

Bexar County's new Justice Intake and Assessment Annex. (SBG photo)

SAN ANTONIO - Bexar County's new facility for booking and processing arrestees is expected to eventually fill the same role for the city of San Antonio. But an agreement has yet to be reached, a fact City Council members are now lamenting.

City Councilman Greg Brockhouse (District 6) cited communication and egos as the source of the problems.

"The city-county relationship really needs to be repaired," Brockhouse said. "The county built the facility. A breakdown in communication between the city and county ... and of course feelings get hurt when that happens. The best thing we can do is really work with the county, fix this relationship."

His colleague, Ana Sandoval (District 7) said the problem dates back to her predecessors, who did not secure a deal while the county was building its $33 million Justice Intake and Assessment Annex.

"Advance planning is always better than retrofitting after the fact," Sandoval said.

For lack of a deal, the city is paying $269 per person for processing in the aging Frank D. Wing building. But it can get the same service from the county for $40, and that's in new, user-friendly building, according to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff,

Sandoval heads the council's Public Safety Committee, which met Tuesday to get briefed on the lingering issue.

"We had this briefing and the county wasn’t even present to present their side and I think that alarms council members," Brockhouse said.

Sandoval disputed that point.

"I think it’s absolutely fine that the county wasn’t there,: she said, "It was the first time we had a public discussion on the issue."

Wolff is just happy the council is discussing the issue again.

"Let me thank the City Council, after two years deciding to wade into this," he said. "It’s up to them. We’re going to do everything we can to accommodate them. "

Wolff fired off a letter to the Public Safety Committee members Wednesday. He wanted to clarify the county's stance on the city eventually coming aboard.

"We can run it (the Intake Annex) just fine without them. But it’s better for the citizens of San Antonio and everybody else if they did come in," he said.

The city has a proposal in front of it to consider. But first council members have to decide exactly what they want from the county, and how much they are willing to pay for additions and enhancements.

"We should have been working together on it from the beginning," Brockhouse said. "The right answer is get to the new building. We can’t get our feelings hurt as a city because the county went off and created an answer."

How soon a deal can be reached is up for debate.

"It could be a few months. It could be a couple of years," Sandoval said.

"This is a fix that’s probably a 30-60-90-day type program," Brockhouse countered.

Wolff had the last word on the issue.

"All we’re charging them is what we used to pay them when we were over there," he said. "I don't know what the big deal is."

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