The first of three public information meetings regarding the construction of a new Starke County jail facility was held yesterday at the Knox Middle School, presenting those present with an idea of the progress of the committee and the findings of the DLZ Corporation and Umbaugh and Associates.
According to the information presented, the previously-mentioned option of doing nothing and maintaining the current facility as-is was found to be insufficient, as the current facility cannot maintain its current population and, with an increasing population trend, the overcrowding situation would only get worse. Additionally, remodeling an existing building to suit the needs of a modern jail is also not cost-sufficient, and would prove financially difficult for the county. Further, state statute prohibits the county from leasing a facility from a private organization, so that option is out as well.
Therefore, the idea of the construction of a new building on either a newly-purchased or already-owned piece of property are the only remaining options available. Costs were presented for these options, including the costs of operation and construction.
The new building would be built on a site of anywhere from four to 10 acres, and the preliminary design plans call for a facility of 32,406 square feet. The current Starke County Jail is only 13,350 square feet.
The facility would hold 108 beds, with the option of adding an additional 32 beds if necessary. The total estimated cost for construction came to $14 million, with an anticipated annual staffing cost of $40,800. The current annual staffing cost is $40,700 for the current facility. Operating costs would increase by $110,691 annually, bringing the total annual operating expenses to $405,400. The construction would take approximately 18 to 20 months, depending on the site and design.
Because of the expense of the construction and operation, the county does not have enough resources to finance this project without issuing bonds. Therefore, the county would issue bonds with a 20 year maturity at $1,180,000 annually. Income taxes would finance these bonds, with an increase of 0.65 percent of adjusted gross income. This equates to an annual income tax increase of $130 for an individual with a state-taxable income of $20,000 per year. For an individual with a state-taxable income of $40,000 per year, this would come out to an additional $260, and for those with a $100,000 state-taxable income, it would equate to a $650 annual increase.
For those who were unable to attend this meeting, the next public meeting will be held at the Oregon-Davis High School Cafeteria at 6 p.m. on July 31.