The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday adopted a proposed interlocal agreement to help cover potential budgetary overages at the Sebastian County Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit.
The resolution including the agreement, which was passed at a city board meeting Tuesday evening, agrees that Fort Smith will share the costs of any overage of a $1.6 million state grant and reimbursement fund given to CSU. The agreement says county and city governments in the facility's six-county catchment area that use the facility would pay $5 daily for services given to its clients, said Rusti Holwick, CEO of The Guidance Center in Fort Smith, where CSU is located.
The board voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution Tuesday, with all directors present at the meeting and Ward 4 Director George Catsavis abstaining.
“It’s really just a step, a formality, that’s a necessary step that allows those other counties in our catchment area to be able to bring individuals to the Crisis Stabilization Unit and utilize that Crisis Stabilization Unit," said Holwick.
CSU, which opened in March with the intent of diverting qualifying people in Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Scott and Polk counties from jail to treatment, has been projected to be fully funded by the grant and reimbursements except for an estimated $75,463 difference. County and city governments that do not ratify the agreement will not be allowed to use the facility, according to a memo from Sebastian County Judge David Hudson to county and city officials in the catchment area.
CSU received 152 admissions in its first three months of operation. Sebastian County had 185 referrals, or 84 percent of all referrals, to CSU in the first three months, according to data collected at the facility. Fort Smith, which has the largest population of any city in the six counties, was a driving force in this percentage because of the 27 crisis intervention trained officers in the Police Department, CSU Program Director Joey Potts said.
Despite the use of the facility by Fort Smith police, the city will still be charged the same rate as all other entities in the agreement, Holwick said.
“The thing is, it’s $5 a day. It’s still such a savings compared to over $50 a day to maintain those people (in jail)," Holwick said.
Though the agreement passed, Holwick said CSU officials are still uncertain as to what kind of difference it will make.
"We feel like there’s still going to be some difference, a margin there," she said. "We’re just now learning what those numbers are really looking like — more of an accurate picture with the more months that we have."
Catsavis said he abstained from voting because he didn't have the information needed to make an informed decision on the resolution.