Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smith County Jail Proposal

Smith County Commissioner's Court held a special hearing today to present a new jail proposal. Scaled down even further from before. Here's the story from KLTV:
Outlook on new jail proposal positive

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County commissioners met Wednesday to hear a proposal to expand the current jail facility.

With all of the proposals that have come and gone many are wondering if this new plan stands a chance. The outlook is positive. The biggest reason for that is the cost. Unlike past proposals, ranging anywhere from $75,000,000 to $125,000,000, the county estimates this one to cost just over $20,000,000. Proposed improvements include building two additional floors, expanding the jail to accommodate an extra 300 beds. County Judge Joel Brown [should say 'Baker'] said it would be a step in the right direction.

"Based on the history of this project, if there's anything the public can buy into, it would be this one - considering the cost, considering the effect on the tax rate [and] the fact that we might be able to do it with no increase to the tax rate," said Baker. "Those are exciting things to me and that may be a plus."

Baker also said the proposed additions would save the county money in the long run.

Smith County taxpayers currently pay two cents on the dollar to send inmates out of the county. Judge Baker said the goal would be to take those two cents and apply it toward the cost of the construction. In theory, Smith County taxpayers wouldn't pay any more out of pocket.

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