During Tuesday’s Baldwin County Commission meeting, County Attorney David Conner announced the county’s sale of the Juvenile Wilderness Facility to Pathway Inc. for $4.9 million.
“This has been a long work effort by the county commission relating to that project, and the result has been to keep the program in Baldwin County for the benefit of the people of the county but at a much lower cost,” Conner said.
Conner said the county is no longer responsible for any Medicaid or Medicare charges related to the facility and the move has shown significant savings to the county’s general fund.
The facility had previously been a source of controversy for the county, after an alleged attack on one of the facility’s workers by one of the juveniles housed there in late 2015.
In 2016, the commission made the move to allow Pathway to take over operations for the facility in a lease agreement.
The commission voted unanimously on March 20 to sell the property to Pathway.
Commissioner Tucker Dorsey thanked county staff for their work in helping to make the deal possible, adding it was good news for the taxpayers of Baldwin County.
“Wilderness was county government doing what county government wasn’t supposed to be doing, at a large cost to our budget,” Dorsey said. “With this move, we’re able to reduce the county’s debt level, remove a roughly $1 million per year draw on the budget and increase the county’s cash flow - and still have the same services being provided. I’m proud of this accomplishment here.”
Commissioner Chris Elliott agreed with Dorsey.
“It was clearly not functional government and something we didn’t need to be doing,” Elliott said. “I’m glad it’s not something we’re still doing, but the service is still there for the kids that need it and for the courts to refer them to. It’s just not on the taxpayers’ backs anymore.”