Annual operational and utility costs for a new Vigo County Jail are estimated to cost more than $6.89 million, an increase of more than $2.56 million over the current jail’s costs.

The numbers come in as the county seeks to build a new jail, its current one having been below constitutional standards by a federal court.

The estimates are from a March 26 report from DLZ Architects/Construction Services and Crowe accounting for the Vigo County Board of Commissioners. 

The study forecasts total utilities will cost $596,417, compared to $317,830 in 2018. It projects operating costs of $6,298,708, up from 2018 costs of $4,015,266.

That brings the total projected annual jail expenses to $6,895,125, up from $4,333,096.

That’s a $2,562,029 increase from 2018.

Commissioner President Brad Anderson said he thinks some of those expenses actually will be less, with more efficient utilities in a new jail facility.

“With the design and controls, water costs should come down and, hopefully, the heating and electric will not increase that much,” Anderson said.

“It will be a little more because there is more square footage. But with efficiency of LED lighting and we are looking at using solar panels to heat water, we think costs would be as high.”

Additionally, Anderson said the study looks at 2018 staffing costs, which included paying 41 correctional officers from the jail budget.

That will be 68 correctional officers paid from the jail budget in 2019, as the county added funding for 27 new correctional officers as part of its efforts to resolve a federal lawsuit.

The study assumes total staffing levels will increase from 43 to 85 for a new facility. The study “estimates an average inmate population of 307, with an increase to 340 average inmate population upon opening of the new facility.”

Additionally, estimated expenses do not account for remaining utility expenses for whatever operations remain at the current facility.

The study estimates the county will have more than $12.54 million in new revenues

The study estimates the county’s 2019 estimated tax revenue is more than $13.57 million, including a special jail tax, public safety tax and public safety answering point (PSAP) tax.

However, new revenues for debt repayment are projected at more than $12.54 million, after moving more than $2 million to pay for PSAP costs now covered by the county’s general fund.

 

Robert Murray, executive director of the Taxpayers Association of Vigo County, said “it appears there will be adequate funds for both debt service and operations.”

Murray said with the study estimating 340 inmates when a new jail opens “if they occupy 504 beds, it might be a problem, but I would certainly hope that that would not happen.”

Murray said efforts need to continue to increase programs to keep people out of jail, or keep the jail inmate population in the “300 hundreds but time will tell. It will be at least two years before we open this thing (new jail) so hopefully some diversion programs can help.”

He added, that since a pod system is being used, “maybe one pod can be just shelled out and have diversionary programs there and if worse comes to worse in 10 years, we can put cells in.”

The county is now considering a 140,000 square foot jail with an average population of 307 inmates and a peak of 504 inmates.

The study estimates a $60 million construction cost requiring an annual debt service of more than $5.62 million; however, when debt service and debt service coverage and operating expenses, total debt is more than $9.59 million annually.

Commissioners are expected to have land appraisals completed by the second week of April on proposed new jail sites.

The proposed jail locations include a site at Springhill Drive and Indiana 63, a former golf course on Honey Creek Drive and the current jail government complex, which would include property of the former Thompson Honda at First and Ohio streets.

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