Greene County issuing $30M in bonds to build new jail

The Greene County commissioners will issue $30.3 million in sales tax-supported bonds to finance the building of a new county jail.

The commissioners entered into a contract Thursday to issue the bonds, the principal and interest of which would be paid back by the county’s existing 1% permissive sales tax. The maturity of the bonds is set in 30 years. It is the first time the county is pledging existing sales tax revenue, and the bonds will be competitively sold on the national market.

“This is the first major step that we’re taking to get this jail built,” said commission President Tom Koogler. “Taking the first step is paramount to our county and to solving this problem.”

Rates are trending between 2 and 5%, Brad Ruwe of Cincinnati-based law firm Dinsmore and Shohl told the board Thursday. That roughly translates to a yearly debt payment of between $1.6 million and $1.8 million for the county.

“The payment will be part of our normal annual budgeting process, and will be paid directly from our sales tax revenue,” county Administrator Brandon Huddleson said. “With some strong sales tax growth that we’ve seen, we’re comfortable with that.”

The commissioners have agreed to spend up to $50 million for a new jail and Sheriff’s office, Huddleson said. This includes the $30.3 million borrowed plus an additional $20 million, half of which comes from revenue replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act, and the other half from the county’s cash reserves. Greene County has received a total of $33 million in ARPA money.

In November 2021, voters turned down a 0.25% sales tax increase that would have paid for the new jail. In April 2020 they rejected a request that would have increased the number of beds from 382 to 500.

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“Before, we were saying, ‘We want this jail,’ ” Commissioner Dick Gould said. “Now we’re saying, we have this much money, build us what you can build us for this amount.”

The current 52-year-old jail has 382 beds and is in a state of disrepair, county officials previously told the Dayton Daily News. It has been under a consent decree for 32 years, which limits the jail population and prohibits overcrowding.

The county has put out a request for qualifications for contractors to design and build the jail. Completion of the bonds process is expected by the end of May.

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