The federal government sent York County fewer immigration detainees this year than local officials expected, resulting in a $2.5 million shortfall.

So now Warden Mary Sabol wants to renegotiate the deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house the federal inmates at her prison.

All we can say: Good luck with that. Federal immigration authorities aren't known for doing York County any favors.

In fact, in 2002 they accused county officials of overbilling the feds for housing detainees, even though our per-day rate was significantly lower than other prisons providing the same service.

After five years of legal wrangling, the federal government settled for $16 million at 5.5 percent interest for the supposed excessive charges. York County taxpayers made a $2 million down payment and agreed to pay $700,000 a quarter to pay off the debt.

Somehow we don't think immigration officials are going to care too much that York County budgeted for an average of 850 prisoners at any given time and only received 756.

The shortfall means the county will probably end the year making about $23 million on the deal instead of the $25.5 million it expected.

York County charges the federal government $83 per day, per prisoner, to house ICE detainees.


Advertisement

Under its contract, the prison has to be prepared to house as many as 900 federal prisoners on any given day - and here's where Sabol thinks ICE might bend.

She said the five-year contract the prison holds with ICE through Sept. 30, 2016, allows the parties to renegotiate per diem costs and implement a new rate Oct. 1, 2014.

Sabol told the county commissioners this week she wants to increase the rate to better reflect the costs of keeping those 900 beds open for the detainees, although she admitted she doesn't know how much that increase might be.

It's worth a try, we suppose. But we wouldn't count on it.

A better solution is already in the works: The county revised its 2014 ICE revenue projection from $25.5 million to $22.7 million.

As with so many aspects of the federal government these days, it never hurts to lower one's expectations.