L.A. County balks at contract for a fourth time. Mayor says city needs to look elsewhere.

Taft is not going to be opening its Community Correctional Facility with inmates from Los Angeles County, at least not anytime soon.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for the fourth time tabled action on a five-year, $75 million contract that would have sent inmates to Taft's empty CCF.

This time, instead of being delayed for a week, or two weeks, or three weeks, it was delayed for three months, until Jan. 21, 2013.

The city hoped to have the CCF up, and fully staffed with more than 500 inmates in it by now,

The city and L.A. County came to a tentative agreement on a contract in mid-August.

The Taft City Council approved it a few days later, but the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have rebuffed the city each time it appeared on the agenda.

The city's frustration at the repeated delays has been growing, and now Mayor Randy Miller and City Councilman Orchel Krier, both said they want to start looking for other counties to deal with.

Riverside County has been one possible client.

"We've got to be more aggressive marketing it," Miller said Wednesday morning.

Krier said Wednesday morning he is going to seek a special meeting or an an agenda item to the next council meeting to discuss bargaining with other counties.

"We've got to start aggressively pursuing Riverside and other counties," Krier said.

Several possible reasons have been given for L.A. County's reluctance to sign the contract when they are faced with overloaded county jails, but one major stumbling block may be the uncertainty over whether or not the state is going to come through with funding that is supposed to go to counties to help with the costs of taking on additional prisoners.

Assembly Bill 109, passed a year ago by the California Legislature, reduces the state prison population by diverting non-violent inmates to county jails to serve their sentences. The state has promised to provide funding to help with the additional costs, but it has not come yet.

Assemblymember Shannon Grove said she is doubtful that money will be forthcoming.
AB 109 resulted in the closure of Taft's CCF and several others,

That put about 50 people out of work and is costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in general fund revenue.

The loss of that money threatens to have dire consequences on city finances and the city's ability to provide services at the level it currently does.

"We've got to get that facility open or we could have some real devastating cuts," Miller said.

Taft still doesn't have a budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year and it is operating under a continuing resolution.