Greene County weighs options as inflation plagues plans for new jail

Greene County Police Major Kirk Keller walks through the third story of the Greene County Jail, which was built in the 1960s. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Greene County Police Major Kirk Keller walks through the third story of the Greene County Jail, which was built in the 1960s. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Sheriff says “all options are on the table;” county has committed $50 million for the project

XENIA — As inflation and rising construction costs plague many government projects, Greene County leaders are weighing their options about the future of their new jail.

Previous iterations of the jail concept included both the jail and new administrative offices for the Sheriff’s Department. However, with rising inflation, it’s unclear whether the county will be able to construct the planned new administration and jail combination with the amount of money allotted.

“All construction companies have to make determinations about that when they bid their projects,” Sheriff Scott Anger said. “That isn’t unique, but going into it, we are discussing the ramifications of supply chain and inflation. We realize those are considerations for this project.”

After voters rejected a November tax levy to pay for a new jail, county commissioners decided in December to pay for a $50 million facility another way.

ExplorePrevious story: Details of old jail's issues, new jail plans

The county issued $30 million in sales tax-funded bonds, which closed Thursday at 4% interest, per a county commissioners work session. The additional $20 million comes from revenue replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act, and from the county’s cash reserves.

The proposed site for the jail is on about eight acres on Greeneway Boulevard, near the Adult Detention Center, the county’s minimum-security facility, and the Juvenile Court.

County officials are currently negotiating a contract with an architect to design the new jail, a process that may take a year, Anger said.

Possible solutions for the new sheriff’s administrative offices could include using existing county property, like the Adult Detention Center, to supplement the new construction. The county has considered, if construction costs prove too high, incorporating administrative offices in the center. However, the new construction will include the jail, at minimum.

“The number one priority is to build a jail that will last the Greene County community 50 years,” Anger said. “All options are on the table. But the jail has to come first. We want a facility that our employees are safe and comfortable in.”

The fate of the current downtown jail is unclear. The property may be torn down, or it may be tapped for a different purpose if the county finds a use for it.

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