MATT CRANE WITH THE FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT
JASPER -- Dubois County addressing jail overcrowding.
The Dubois County Council received an update this week on plans to expand the current Security Center and Community Corrections. Members also heard options for moving all justice-related services out of the courthouse and into the Annex building.
The Free Press reports the county has approved a new tax to cover the cost of a new jail, but it comes with limitations on how it can be used. Current guidelines state the county cannot use the money from that fund to cover the cost of a new facility, meaning the county will have to cover most of the expense.
Estimates show it would cost around $20 million to expand the security center, 3.4 million for Community Correction and $10 million for the justice center and courthouse rehabilitation.
In total, the project is expected to cost about $34 million.
County Commissioner Chad Blessinger pointed out that these costs are based on the most expensive options. As an example, he pointed out that the costs for the security center were based on a 250- to 270-bed facility — about three times the size of the current jail. Blessinger said he didn’t feel there was a need for that size facility. “We are trying to shoot high on our estimates so there isn’t a big surprise on bid day,” he said pointing out that they plan on building the facility so it can be expanded as needed.
Blessinger reported that according to Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, the Indianapolis firm helping the county with the financials for the project, the county will have $29,375,000 from the bond with $5,400,000 in revenue available from the new C and R tax before the first bond payment is due. Overall, the tax will cover the cost of the bond and interest on the project and then some. Under the current economic conditions — because the tax is completely dependent on local employment — over the 20-year life of the tax, the county could potentially collect up to $54 million.
No action was taken to move forward at this week’s meeting. Talks will continue through March.
The council has until April to finalize payments on the projects.