Greene County may build smaller jail for higher cost

Inflation turned a $50 million estimate for a 384-bed jail and Sheriff’s office into $60 million for a 250-bed jail only

XENIA — Plans for building a combined Greene County Jail and Sheriff’s office have been scrapped, as the county faces the inflation-era reality of building a smaller jail for more money.

The county had previously planned to construct a 384-bed jail and Sheriff’s administration office to replace the current 52-year-old jail, which county officials say has been sorely in need of replacement. Last November, voters rejected a 0.25% sales tax levy to fund the jail, which was then estimated at $50 million.

New plans for the jail would involve building a smaller, 250-bed jail for nearly $60 million. A new space to house the Sheriff’s office and patrol operations will need to be phased in sometime in the future, Greene County Sheriff Scott Anger said.

“The supply chain and inflation increases are making the project more challenging, but the project is moving forward. We are confident that we will have a timeline for the beginning of construction in the near future,” he said.

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Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

In the current jail, officer locker rooms have been converted to detainee interview rooms, programming is conducted in jail administrator break rooms, and a sally port is unusable due to a crumbling foundation, according to county officials. The jail has been under a consent decree since 1989, which limits the jail population due to the state of the building.

The county also has the Adult Detention Center, a 236-bed medium-minimum security facility, which under the new construction would likely be converted to programming space and would also serve as overflow. The average daily population of the county’s jail system is between 220 and 240 people.

Greene County has a couple options to make up the $10 million difference. Last week, Governor Mike DeWine’s office announced $51 million in grant funding for construction, renovation, and infrastructure improvements at Ohio county jails through the Ohio Jail Safety and Security Program.

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This is the second round of jail funding the state has put forward. Last year, the state awarded $45 million to six jails for major construction projects, mainly focused on low-income communities. Greene County applied for a grant but was not selected for the money last year.

“We have a great team working on this project and we will promote building the best jail that the county can afford,” Anger said. “We are always considering officer safety, inmate safety, and efficiency as we proceed.”

If the state again rejects Greene County’s bid for state funds, the surplus will likely have to be made up by pulling even more money from the county’s cash reserves, County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said.

“While this is a tough time to be considering new construction, we are committed to getting this jail built. Not building a new facility has simply never been an option,” Huddleson said.

After voters rejected the tax levy, the county issued $30 million in sales tax-funded bonds in April. The additional funds come from $10 million in revenue replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act, and $10 million from cash reserves.

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