Galen Scott Parker County Commissioners voted Monday to begin negotiations with CiviGenics, a private jail management service. Though the Court has not yet voted in favor of privatization, a request for proposals (RFP) from jail management companies was issued last year. County officials received responses from CiviGenics and The Emerald Company, another industry leader. County Judge Mark Riley and a committee of county officials reviewed both proposals and, according to Riley, voted unanimously in favor or pursuing talks with CiviGenics. Another affirmative vote from commissioners was needed Monday before specific contract negotiations could legally be allowed to continue. “We’re going through the legal hoops to bring it to the court’s attention,” Riley explained. “Legally, we can’t talk to them right now.” Though he hinted privatizing could lower expenses at the Parker County Justice Center to as low as $40 per inmate, per day, Riley acknowledged the subject is still up for debate. “Not everybody is even to the point of saying that we ought to do this, but you’ve got to go through the [legal] hurdles,” he said. Riley crafted a motion authorizing further negotiations with CiviGenics, provided any proposed contract be brought before the Commissioners Court for final review and discussions. He requested oversight from County Attorney John Forrest, Sheriff Larry Fowler, Auditor Mike Rhoten, Treasurer Jim Thorp and Purchasing Agent Deena Nichols. County Attorney John Forrest said voting to negotiate with CiviGenics is a legal step necessary to begin negotiations. “It’s going to allow all these entities to get together and look at the different options that might be available to the county,” Forrest said. Precinct 4 Commissioner was skeptical of the vote’s significance. “It looks to me like we’re choosing from between two companies to manage the jail,” he said before voting against the measure. According to the company’s Web site, CiviGenics is currently managing six county jails in Texas, including facilities in Bowie, McLennan, Ector and Kinney Counties.