[1994/oagheade.htm]

OAG 94-56

August 10, 1994

Subject: County jail administrative booking fee

Written by: Gerard Gerhard

Requested by: Hon. Steve Henry, County Commissioner, Jefferson County District A

Syllabus: A fiscal court cannot lawfully impose a general administrative fee for booking of prisoners in the county jail because there is no statute empowering it to do so.

OAGs cited:

Statutes construed: KRS 71.040, 441.035

OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

The following question has been presented:

May the Jefferson County Fiscal Court impose upon a municipality or arrestee and administrative fee for booking at the county jail?

It is the opinion of the Attorney General that the Jefferson County Fiscal Court cannot lawfully impose, upon a municipality or arrestee, a general administrative fee for booking at the county jail, because there is no statute empowering a fiscal court to impose such fee.

In Fiscal Court, Etc. v. City of Louisville, Ky., 559 S.W.2d 478, 481, (1977), the court observed:

Tradition establishes that county government in Kentucky is based on the premise that all power exercised by the fiscal court must be expressly delegated to it by statute.

A review of the statutes does not disclose any statute empowering a fiscal court to impose, on a municipality or arrestee, a general administrative fee for booking at the county jail.

KRS 441.035 provides, in part:

The United States may use the jail of any county, and any city may use the jail of the county in which the city is located for the incarceration of prisoners charged with or convicted of violations of the city's ordinances, by paying the county the fees by agreement with the fiscal court for the type of services rendered.

(Emphasis added.)

While the statute quoted above empowers the establishment of a fee for the "type of services rendered" (which presumably would include booking), to be paid by a city for incarceration in a county jail of prisoners charged with or convicted of violations of city ordinances, there is no statute authorizing what we have termed a "general" administrative fee for booking of prisoners charged with or convicted of other types of violations.

We note also that KRS 71.040 provides, in part:

At the time of booking, the jailer shall receive and keep in the jail all persons who are lawfully committed thereto, until they are lawfully discharged, unless the person is in need of emergency medical attention, in which case the arresting officer shall obtain medical attention for the person prior to delivery to the jail.

The duty of the jailer to receive and keep in the jail, until they are lawfully discharged, all persons lawfully committed to the jail, is not made contingent upon a fee for booking. And see, KRS 95.787.

Given the absence of a statute authorizing a fiscal court to impose an administrative fee for booking upon a municipality or arrestee, and the statutory duty imposed upon the jailer as noted, in our view a fiscal court cannot lawfully impose a general administrative fee on a municipality or arrestee for booking in a county jail.

CHRIS GORMAN

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Gerard R. Gerhard

Assistant Attorney General