On June 22, Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz released a statement stating that the North Royalton Jail will remain open, as an understanding was reached with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 15, Correction Officers. The agreement is pending an opportunity for the Corrections Officers to reduce expenses and increase revenue. “I am pleased for all parties that we are now able to work together with our corrections officers in a concerted effort to address the historical, annual deficits in the operation of our city jail, “ said Antoskiewicz. He had announced the jail closing on April 29.
This reversal comes afer a large number of residents and police department employees addressed City Council at June 16 and 19 City Council meetings. Council was discussing two pieces of legislation that related to the closing of the city’s jail on June 30. A third meeting had also been scheduled for June 23. The legislation included a contract with the City of Parma, through June 30, 2023, where North Royalton prisoners would then be transferred, and a jail closing severance agreement for those being laid off.
The jail is part of the North Royalton Police Department, located at the corner of Bennett and Royalton Roads. North Royalton built the facility in the early 1990s. The Jail houses up to 18 full-time male and female prisoners and serves about nineteen communities who do not have access to their own jail. According to Antoskiewicz, seven full-time employees and twelve part-time employees would have been laid off. He added that, “over the last few years, the hope was that as other cities closed their jails, we would be more of a regional jail. That just never materialized.” He said that in 2020, so far, the average daily population was 8.44 prisoners. Several years ago, the city did increase the charge of the jail from $90 to $100 per day, in order to be more in keeping with surrounding jails. “The taxpayers of North Royalton cannot be expected to bear the costs of housing prisoners from nineteen other communities at so great a loss as is now the case,” said Antoskiewicz. “Even if we were to double our revenue from those communities served by our jail, the costs of operation would still be too high to sustain.” He also had stated that the new bond schedule, which took effect June 1, would have decreased those that would require jailing.
The shared agreement had stated that North Royalton would pay $236,500 per year, billing monthly, for the housing of prisoners, including OVI breath testing. The flat rate was based on approximately 750 prisoner days equating to about $315 daily. Parma would then agree to accept NRPD prisoners “subject to housing availability or medical/psychological condition.” North Royalton Law Director, Tom Kelley said that at the end of the first year, the two cities would determine the actual use was and if a credit could be issued or more money is owed.
“This is not a new concept,” said Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz at the June 16 meeting. “Only two other communities in the county operate a jail – Parma and Solon.” He then gave examples of other communities, such as Shaker Hts., that have jails, but do not use them for a cost savings. Antoskiewicz then talked about the recent Top Safest Cities rating in Ohio, noting that most of them do not have a jail.
At the June 16 Council meeting, NRPD Chief Ken Bilinovich stated that the jail was never meant to be a money making vehicle, but a public service. He stated that the jail has never gone over the allotted yearly budget and that he felt that the Mayor had made the decision to close the jail without discussing with him and other jail officials. Antoskiewicz stated that it was not true. “We did have that conversation back early in the year and told you that I had a problem with the numbers on the jail. If we could run efficiently on those numbers, then why haven’t we? I said I was looking at other alternatives.” Bilinovich said that “we were not even given an opportunity to save the city money. If money was that tight back then, Mayor, give me a week and we will bring that budget down, but that was not done.”
Bilinovich also noted that if the plan goes through, it will take police out of the city for a longer period of time. He noted that it would take close to an hour at minimum for each transport. If the person arrested is combative, two officers would be required for transport. He said that currently, there are four officers covering the city for the morning shift, five for the afternoon shift and four for the night shift. He said that in order to cover the city, more officers should be hired.
NRPD Jail Administrator, Marty Toukonen, said that the 2019 net cost to run the jail was $570,781.78. He calculated the estimated cost that would be incurred if the agreement is approved will be $667,509.63, which would include the hiring of three new officers, housing some of the inmates in Solon, if needed, along with transportation costs and overtime. He also stated that in 2019, if you were to use the new bond schedule, there were 1,100 prisoner days, which far exceed the amount allotted under the contract.
FOP Representative Christopher Johnson said, “the Mayor complained that we were subsidizing other cities without jails, but now we are subsidizing Parma.” He noted that the current customary rate is $125 per day, then asked “why did North Royalton agree to a rate almost three times that amount?” He also asked “why were no attempts made to reduce costs and increase income? Given the contract, negotiated by the Mayor with Parma, obviously the market would have borne a substantial increase.”
Resident, Don Harris stated, “if it’s so good for Parma that we’re going to give them all this money, why can’t it be good for us? Why can’t we do the same thing that Parma is doing? You Councilman – pay attention to this – vote it down.”
Resident, Michael McDonald stated, “there is no guarantee that Parma will be able to handle North Royalton prisoners.” He added, “you’re not controlling these costs any more.” “We know the fair market rate for the prisoners – it’s not $100, it’s not 125, it’s $315, and that amount is going up. If you charge $315, you increase revenue by over $400,000,” he said. McDonald encouraged Council to “protect city assets.”
Resident and NRPD employee Colleen Gross noted that, “our police officers have been able to do their jobs, get the bad guy off the streets and have been able to remain within the city limits to respond to other emergencies that can unexpectedly and quickly arise. These officers will now have to transport an arrested person to another city for processing, keeping them off the road for an extended period.”
NRPD Officer, Jon Karl, stated that, “we have a need for a longer exchange of dialog before we close that door. This investment by the taxpayers should include all stakeholders.” He said that there has not been adequate time to fully discuss the matter. “We need to take a step back before we forfeit an asset.”
Resident and former Councilman, John Nickell noted that, “we went through a recession and we never talked about the jail being a big problem.” He said that in all the years he worked as a Councilman, the Mayor never made a decision with executive order without discussing it with the Council.
Ward 4 Councilman Jeremy Dietrich stated that he didn’t feel comfortable because, he felt that the contract was not specific enough. Ward 5 Councilman Vince Weimer stated that, “the executive branch has already made a decision. If I vote no, that doesn’t guarantee that the executive division will change their mind, but it may put us in a worse case scenario.” Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw noted that, “the taxpayers of this city have paid for the jail for over 30 years and deserve to have an opportunity to better understand the process on why and if the possible closure of the city jail will impact the community’s public safety. This issue did not come up in the 2020 city budget nor in past budgets that I can find being an issue. The jail closure is not related to any financial issues due to COVID-19. Furthermore, the City has not taken any major action over the years to reduce costs or even increase fees to house other communities’ prisoners since 2010.”
Following the announcement that the jail would now remain open, Council President Paul Marnecheck said, “I know the union and the administration are both back at the discussion table. There was a lot of passion on both sides of the issue and I’m encouraged that they both decided to continue this conversation. I want to also thank the residents on both sides of this issue that reached out over these past few weeks.”
According to the Mayor’s statement, “Council and the Mayor will, together, review the progress of this effort in conjunction with the city budget review later in the year.”

Holding Cell

Jail Holding Cell

D Pod

Detox Cell

Contributing Writer