Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Floyd County Council approves $15 million jail renovation funding

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County is set to proceed with its jail project.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Floyd County Council voted 4-2 on a second and final reading to pass an ordinance authorizing the use of bond anticipation notes (BANs) and general obligation bonds to fund the jail project. Councilwoman Leslie Knable was absent.

The renovations will cost $15 million and include the addition of 110 beds, a new security system, a kitchen remodel and improvements to heating and air, ventilation, lighting and plumbing.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the Floyd County Commissioners awarded bids to contractors for the jail project.

Floyd County Sheriff Frank Loop said he expects the construction to start within the next 30 to 45 days.

The BANs are short-term bonds that would allow for a temporary cash flow for the project for about three years. The county would be able to receive about $30 million of funds from proceeds from the sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital by 2020, according to Councilman Cam Wright. They would have the options to use the cash on hand to pay off the BAN or proceed with the bonds.

Along with Tom Pickett, Council President Brad Striegel was one of two council members to vote against the ordinance.

The project is only a “band-aid fix” to the problems of overcrowding at the jail, Striegel said. The jail currently has about 350 inmates with beds for only 243.

Striegel said the new project means about a hundred inmates currently sleeping on cots would be moved to beds. He wants to see other options that would solve the overcrowding problem in the long term.

Striegel’s other concern is related to the county’s budget shortfall. The county is experiencing a $4.9 million budget deficit for this year. The project would involve extra expenses with the addition of more correction officers and more food and supplies, he said.

He said he wants the council and commissioners to work together to find a solution to these issues.

“I want to see plans on how to shore up a budget shortfall and commitments to balance the budget,” Striegel said.

Councilwoman Denise Konkle said this is only short-term fix to issues at the jail. She also wants to create a task force to address why there are so many people awaiting trials at the facility.

Loop said the project will help solve the issues of overcrowding and disrepair and allow the jail to meet constitutional standards.

“It’s taken three years to get this far, so I appreciate the diligent work of the council,” he said.

LEGACY FOUNDATION

The council also voted 5-1 on a second and final reading of an ordinance establishing a county foundation, which they are calling the Legacy Foundation. If approved by the county commissioners at their next meeting, it will be put into place.

Floyd County would be able to put proceeds from the hospital sales into the foundation, according to Konkle.

The county already gave $70 million of hospital sale proceeds to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, and while the county receives spend rates from the nonprofit, it no longer owns the funds.

The funds put into the Legacy Foundation would be Floyd County’s to save and use for future generations, Konkle said.

Striegel said he hopes to see the foundation used for projects like improved roads, economic development and an improved parks system.

Wright was the only member to vote against the ordinance.

“We already have almost 70 million from the hospital sale that we put into the Southern Indiana Community Foundation,” he said. “I just feel like having multiple foundations will kind of muddle things and kind of dilute our money sources.”

Before voting on how much money to place in the foundation, the county’s next steps involve sending a request for proposal for the fund and working with investment advisors, Konkle said.

“I hope we can get all this done by the end of the year and get some money put back for future uses for this county,” Konkle said.

Source: http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/floyd-county-council-approves-million-jail-renovation-funding/article_3d32ed72-8575-11e8-81e7-17e226bd82fd.html

« »