First of all let me state that I am not opposed to fixing our current jail problem but I am opposed to spending 8.9 million to do it.(7.75 million construction cost+1.15 million interest on the bond proposal)
I first became aware of our jail problem in Oct. 2017 by reading the paper and have since acquired the Quorum Court minutes from Oct.2017 in which Sheriff White addressed the court.The main issue here it seems is not being able to house female inmates..He stated it cost between $15,000 and $20,000 a year (actual cost were $22,610 in 2017) to send females to other county jails.Other issues were mentioned but this seemed to be the main one. To fix the problem he stated he would like a facility to house 20 males,6 females,an impound lot,communications center and possibly a new courtroom. Now the sheriff says the cost is $200,000 per yr(a $177,390 difference) to send inmates to other counties.He says he didn’t figure transport costs originally. His example of this is 11,000 man hours to transport inmates,simple math brings this figure to 30 hrs per day, every day of the year to transport inmates to other county jails. The county paid Sevier County $4900.00 at $35.00.per day and transported about 5 females and 1 male in 2017. Two females were transported multiple times,so lets say 10 transports of 160 miles round trip and say 3 hrs diving and 1 hr in booking. So 4 hrs x 10 transports comes to 40 hrs. total man hours for 2017.The county paid Pike County $17,710.00 in 2017.I do not have info at this time to figure transport cost but seeing as Pike Co. is a 100 mile round trip it will be less per inmate. I estimate about 200 hrs transport for 2017 and definitely not 11,000 hrs.So what are we actually saving the county taxpayers by building the current proposed jail,$20,000. to $30,000. or $200,000 thousand.You be the judge.
The current proposed jail is a 40 bed facility that will be turnkey needing only groceries for the kitchen according to Southbuild LLC. Southbuild is a consulting firm and not the general contractor.In other words a middle man. Nothing will be re-used from our old jail as everything will be purchased new,so everything will include middle man fees right down to the pots and pans in the kitchen. There are no competing bids for this project only Southbuild. So how do we know we are getting a fair deal?
The project also includes separate offices for deputies and offices for the State Hwy Patrol and Arkansas Game and Fish. A squad room lay out would be less expensive and I am opposed to using county taxpayer money for State Agencies. Also the Sheriff stated with a larger bed capacity he could house state prisoners from the Ar. Dept of Corrections. I am opposed to for profit prisons as this is what it would be. My main concern is once they are released after serving their sentence where do they go? Are they violent or non-violent offenders? Will they be walking into Mt.Ida down 270 West?
The addition of a new court room is a full third of the project. Do we really need a new court room? I understand the court room can get crowded at times but there is ample room behind the court room to add on if needed in the future at a much cheaper price. Also their will be over 100 paved parking spots for the entire facility. Without the court room only 20 to 30 will be needed for the jail,another additional savings.
I will be voting no May 22nd on this tax hike. We need to go back and look at the original needs as stated by Sheriff White in Oct. I believe we can get what is needed for half the cost or better. Spend our taxpayer dollars as responsible as possible.
Candidate for County Judge
Small Business Owner