Mesa is expected to become the first city in Arizona to house its inmates with a private prison operator.

The city says it will save taxpayer dollars but the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which operates the county's public jails, disagrees.

Private prison operator CoreCivic is in line for the $15 million contract to house the city's inmates. It would house inmates charged with criminal misdemeanors before the trial and after sentencing for up to six months. The jail is in Florence, about 70 miles from MCSO jails in Phoenix.

Opponents say that's too far for working families to visit their loved ones in jail.

CoreCivic says it would have saved the Mesa Police Department almost $5 million over three years by not sending inmates to county jail, but under the recommended contract, the department would save only $2 million.

The jail contract appears to be a money-saver, but many financial details are still unknown.