Friday, September 2, 2005

Jail funding plan to receive judicial review

Public invited to make comments

Express Staff Writer

Bringing a new county jail one step closer to reality, Blaine County commissioners agreed this week to request court approval of a plan to enter into a lease-purchase agreement for construction of the facility.

State law requires court review.

The commissioners voted Tuesday to ask the court to review a lease-purchase agreement that would allow the county to pay for the proposed facility with budget savings over about 20 years.

By law, the county must wait two weeks before filing its petition to allow for public comment on its advisability. County Clerk Marsha Reimann said people can stop by her office anytime to submit comments.

The new jail would replace the old facility next to the Old County Courthouse on Second Avenue in Hailey. The existing facility is routinely overcrowded and considered dilapidated.

In the mid 1990s, the county bought 3.23 acres of land on Aviation Drive in the Airport West subdivision to build a jail and public safety facility. In a 2004 advisory vote, the county received public support to fund construction of a new jail with existing funds.

Construction plans have been adjusted according to costs, with a recent reduction in the design to keep the project within its $9.5 million budget.

The remaining question is whether the review will happen before the county budget for fiscal year 2005-2005 is certified this fall. The county has included about $600,000 for the upcoming budget to go toward the initial design phase of the project if the judicial confirmation goes through.

The new facility is planned to include a modern jail, a new sheriff's office and a new emergency dispatch center.

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