Jackson Co. to borrow up to $30M to build new jail

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The price tag for a new Jackson County jail has finally been calculated. It will cost taxpayers $30 million to replace the current old and sometimes overcrowded facility. Supervisors passed a resolution Monday to borrow the construction money.  Supervisors said borrowing money and building the new jail now should save taxpayers millions of dollars later.

After 12 years of sometimes contentious debating and numerous disagreements, Jackson County supervisors made lots of progress Monday.

"We took the final step to actually build a jail for Jackson County," Supervisor Troy Ross said.

The board agreed to end the jail saga by borrowing all the money needed to replace the old adult detention center in the county.

"We are borrowing up to $30 million, but we don't expect it to cost that much. That includes all architect fees, all engineering fees," Supervisor John McKay said.

Well, $30 million may seem like a steep price to pay for an 800 bed jail, but supervisors Troy Ross and Melton Harris said it's cheaper than the previous plan.  Plus, the county doesn't have to raise taxes.

"We were in a project where it looked like the cost was continually escalating $33 to $35 million, now we are in a project where it looks like we are going to get it for under $30 million," Ross said.

"Anytime we can proceed and build a jail that they say is much needed and save taxpayers that much money, that is real plus," Harris said.

A second plus came when the county found out its bond rating was just upgraded. That should cut a bit more from the jail's final construction bill.

"It has a lot to do with the way we have operated the county, and with our cash balance and  cash we carry forward every year," said McKay. "There is a lot development going on in Jackson County and that gave us our bond rating."

"Overall the big winner would be the taxpayers of Jackson County. It is their pocket that it is coming out of, so we need to remember that every time we spend money," Ross said.

Supervisors expect the money to be in the bank for this jail by November and construction is expected start in early 2013.

The board of supervisors has also agreed to sign a contract with the Goldberg Group Architects to design the jail. County leaders will pay the firm $1.9 million. Supervisor Mike Mangum said the price was higher, but he objected to the fee and firm lowered its price by more than $80,000.

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