“It doesn’t make sense to me to get rid of what we already have,” Grossmann said.
Sims described moving forward with renovation as a “train wreck.”
Last year, the commissioners directed the consultant, K2M Design, to move ahead with a needs assessment after unveiling the findings of a study estimating the costs of replacing the existing facility at more than $50 million.
“It almost seems in my humble opinion we’ve stepped back a bit,” Sims said after Grossmann asked questions related to renovating the current facility, built in 1975 and last expanded in 1996.
But Jones and Young said they supported the construction of a new jail.
“This is our top priority. We’re building a jail,” Young said.
The county anticipates borrowing $30 million of the cost, incurring $40 million in debt service over 20 years. In 20 years, consultant Scott Maloney projects that the new jail will have reached capacity.
So far, the county - which historically has funded building projects through cash reserves - has set aside $4.1 million for the a new jail.
After the meeting, Sims said he was unsure how much the jail would cost, but estimated $30 million to $40 million.
In March, the sheriff and Maloney are expected to return for another meeting after completing final analysis of staffing needs of the jail for the next 20 years.
The new jail is expected to house 450 inmates, 170 more than the existing facility, which is operating at or near capacity.
Over the past decade, county officials have developed alternative sentencing options and begun double bunking inmates, rather than build a new jail.
In recent years, they have been releasing more prisoners before their sentences lapse and delaying incarceration of others due to limited space in the jail.
While building a new jail is expensive, Maloney advised the commissioners that a new building would maximize efficiency and reduce personnel costs.
“The operations are the most expensive part,” he said, estimating the new jail could be complete in five years.
Deerfield Twp. Trustee Chris Romano urged the commissioners to factor in the county’s growth.
He said the township outside Mason is expecting to practically double in population from 27,000 to 50,000 in coming decades.
“You should expect that the rest of the county is going to continue to grow,” Romano said.