HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Oct. 20, 2017)—Four commissioners voted Tuesday, Oct. 3, to move the county's jail project out to 2020 and work towards getting state funding once it is available rather than seeking to forward fund the project and hope for state support.
Commissioner John O'Connor voted against the measure, stating that much needed expansion and renovation was needed sooner rather than later.
He advised that the county should try to appeal the state's rules for getting funding—the state decided that the jail project, while critical, did not meet immediate funding criteria because its design was still under review—and try to get a commitment from the state for construction funds.
"Right now we're looking at going out to 2020," O'Connor said. "With this we have no options.
"I'm looking to create options."
Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron concurred with O'Connor's proposal because it would "communicate we're serious" to the state.
"I think it puts us where we need to be," Cameron said.
O'Connor cautioned that waiting so long for state funding would "push it farther down the road."
There are two phases to the adult detention center project, the first is to build new space to accept more inmates, including a wing for females which would allow for "swing space" to house inmates so the second phase could begin.
The final phase would include significant renovation of the existing jail space to improve security as well as creature comforts such as heating and air conditioning for both inmates and corrections officers.
The entire project is budgeted at $25.3 million with the county providing $15 million and the state, elected officials hope, providing about $10 million.
Commissioner Tom Jarboe said the idea of appealing to the state, which would likely end with them asking the county to forward fund the project, could mean they would try to leave the entire bill to local government.
"It's too high a risk to consider forward funding," Jarboe said.
Commissioner President James "Randy" Guy said he did not believe state elected officials would be much help in securing funding for the jail next legislative session.
"I don't have much faith in our delegation to give us the bonding authority next year," Guy said.
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