Jail-worker unions are suing Cumberland and Gloucester counties to block a plan to move Gloucester jail inmates to Cumberland.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by three Fraternal Order of Police lodges against the counties’ freeholder boards, seeks to invalidate the agreement between the counties, claiming that proper procedure and laws were not followed.

The agreement would transfer 100 to 350 inmates from Gloucester County to the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton, and close the Gloucester jail.

Cumberland officials said the agreement would, based on the housing of 100 inmates, raise $3.65 million annually. The net gain, after expenses, would be $3 million, which would help offset the county budget deficit, which totals about $12.5 million this year.

The move would also save Gloucester County the expense of operating and maintaining a jail.

“Overall, the resolutions adopted by the Gloucester board and the Cumberland board are void since (the) same were adopted without a final agreement for the members (of the boards) to consider,” the suit states.

Deptford-based attorney Mark Cimino filed the suit on behalf of the lodges in state Superior Court.

The suit claims the county boards did not address employment reconciliation agreements and did not seek the approval of the Civil Service Commission.

At least 15 new hires will be needed for the Cumberland County jail, according to a study that will be formally presented in a few weeks, Cumberland Administrator Kenneth Mecouch said.

Staff Writer Thomas Barlas contributed to this report.

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