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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

SHOULD A REFERUDUM FROM LAWRENCE COUNTY VOTERS DECIDE WHETHER THEY WANT A NEW JAIL?

LAWRENCE COUNTY - DECEMBER 22, 2022 - The Lawrence County Justice Study in May 2021, was released and calls for a new jail .


The new jail is proposed to be constructed on property located on Beech Street in Bedford.


Current Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham says the current facility has outlived its usefulness, with several repairs needed throughout the facility.


Current Lawrence County Jail


The local officials have not voted on a proposed jail at this time.


The Lawrence County Commissioners will be the first to decide whether a new jail facility should be built. The Commissioners and Lawrence County Council will then decide how to fund the construction of the new facility.


Some taxpayers asked whether a referendum of the Lawrence County voters should decide whether a new jail facility is needed?


Preliminary figures have the new construction costs at $35.4 Million dollars to be paid over the next 19 years. With interest on a debt service bond issued, the interest costs will be $22,553,412. A total cost of $58 Million by 2043.


Interest rates over the interest rates for the proposed debt service bonds ranged from 3.70 percent at the beginning of January 15, 2026, to 5.80 percent at January 15, 2043.


(The soft costs are associated with financing, design services, furniture/equipment, staffing and operational costs. These costs can add $7.3 Million)


The revenue for the new jail will be paid by a proposed new Correctional Local Income Tax and add .35 percent to the current Public Safety Tax already being paid by Lawrence County taxpayers.


The actual interest on rate will depend on underlying credit securing the bond and market conditions at the time of the bond sale. They actual interest rate may vary materially from the rate assumed in the analysis.


Baker/Tilley of Indianapolis is helping the county with finding ways to fund the construction costs of $35.4 Million.


Property on Beech Street is being proposed not only for a new jail, but moving Lawrence County Probation, Lawrence County Prosecutors office, and Lawrence County Public Defender's Office in one Justice Complex with separate buildings.


If the Lawrence County Commissioners approve the plan rather quickly in the next coming months payments could begin by January 15, 2024, and be final payment by January 15, 2043.


Lawrence County Commissioners and Lawrence County Council held a work session on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the building the proposed jail.


Lawrence County Zephyr was not able to attend that meeting, however, has reviewed the Justice Study and documentation on the projected costs, and funding for the project.


Keep in mind the costs were estimated back in May 2021, and is expected to increase with time.


There are many questions remaining about building the proposed facility, and why no cost estimates on refurbishing the current facility and adding on to the existing building.


The land where the proposed jail facility was to be built on Beech Street is now for sale. However, moving a correctional facility into residential and business districts have not been vetted with those who live in those areas.


Lawrence County Sheriff elect Greg Day told the Lawrence County Zephyr after his win election night, his feelings about the jail situation.


Lawrence County Sheriff elect Greg Day says let's get the current jail safer


" Obviously, I made it no secret about the fact at some forums, that we need to look at the role of looking at a new jail facility. We need to seriously start looking at what we can do to fix our current jail, first," said Day.


"With the jail counts down the jail will be a lot easier to manage. This will help tremendously that will allow some flexibility with what the jail can do. Those numbers will fluctuate over time, but I do not want a band-aid on it. If we are going to fix it, I am for saving the taxpayer money at this time. Let put a substantial investment in this current jail, get the jail safer, workable, and improve what we have. Hopefully, we can get 10-13 years quality life out of this current facility. That give the Lawrence County Commissioners, Lawrence County Council, powers to be a time frame of the inevitable of building a new jail. I am really hoping everybody is on board with what we can do with the current facility. I certain at this time, that Lawrence County does not need to spend money on a new jail," added Day concluded.


The current jail count as of Tuesday were below 81 inmates a day now, and the new proposed jail will house a total of 300 inmates.


There is no word when public hearings will begin on the proposed construction of the jail and the new taxes to help fund the project.


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1 Comment


ronumphress
ronumphress
Dec 23, 2022

Here is an idea. Gut the current jail. Make improvements and updates. That would be a lot cheaper

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