SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County voters will decide the fate of a $46.5 million bond issue aimed at improving the county jail.
Saline County commissioners voted 2-1 Wednesday to put the bond issue on the November ballot. The renovations would also include combining the county jail with court services and the county attorney’s office.
Chairman Randy Duncan voted against the proposal, with commissioners John Price and Jim Gile voting in favor, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1qiJ87B ). Duncan said he was against any project that moved court services and the county attorney from the third floor of the City-County Building because the county would still be responsible for $486,172 annual rent for the space those offices now occupy.
“It is doomed to fail,” Duncan said of the justice complex proposal. “I think we have to put before the taxpayers a plan that is affordable. We also have to look at the operating costs and what that does to the county budget and the mill levy.”
The justice complex work would include renovating the jail and increasing capacity to 344 beds; renovating the jail booking and medical offices; and new court, community corrections and county attorney facilities. The proposal also calls for a $3 million parking garage about a block away.
Duncan favored a $20.4 million, 344-bed jail project, up from the current 192-bed capacity.
The Citizen Jail/Criminal Advisory Committee worked for more than a year studying jail crowding and the cramped district court facilities and presented five recommendations to the commissioners.
Jerry Fowler, former county commissioner, said he supports combining the jail and the court.
“With the interest rate the way it is, with construction cost the way it is, if the state Legislature says you are going to need more judges, that decision is going to look really smart,” he said. “If you want to look smart five years from now, you go with the whole package.”
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