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DeKalb County Board members to review jail expansion costs

Published: Monday, April 28, 2014 10:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 11:22 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – DeKalb County Board members will review new cost estimates for expanding the county jail at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A workshop will be held in the Five Seasons Room at the Community Outreach Building, 2500 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb, to discuss updated figures of expanding the jail. Board members hadn’t received the figures as Monday.

“I’m anxious to see some of the numbers, too,” said Jeffery Metzger, County Board chairman.

Cost estimates have escalated since concepts were approved in 2012 because of inflation and a rise in construction costs, DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said. The workshop will focus on the new figures, which Hanson declined to disclose before Wednesday’s workshop.

In 2012, the cost to expand the jail was estimated at $27 million. Construction likely won’t begin until all the funding is addressed, Hanson said.

“I wouldn’t see construction on the jail before 2016,” he said.

The workshop will be held to update newer members of the board as a refresher course, Metzger said.

To pay for some of the costs, officials plan to use revenue gained from dumping fees at the Cortland landfill, where construction started this spring on a large-scale expansion. That money, about $1.8 million to $2 million a year, is expected to start flowing as soon as 2015, Hanson said.

Besides paying for construction costs, officials also need to address how they will pay for continuous maintenance costs at the jail.

Currently, the county is paying to house inmates in other jails because of overcrowding at the DeKalb County Jail. There is no holding cell to control out-of-hand inmates because of the overcrowding, said board member Jeff Whelan, DeKalb Republican from District 10.

Some inmates also have had to sleep on the floor.

“We have a very serious need for additional jail space given our current level of criminality in our county,” said board member Robert Brown, a DeKalb Democrat from District 6.

Whelan, who has toured the jail at least three times, said county voters twice denied referendums to fund jail expansion. The first referendum was denied at $18 million, and the second was denied at $21 million, he said.

“The current projected cost is around $29 million. That was last year,” Whelan said.

Metzger said some officials feel there will be a funding shortfall since construction costs continue to climb.

“We’re going to have to make the numbers up somewhere,” he said.

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