Commission Explores Selling Jail
MARION COUNTY- The Marion County Commissione is exploring the idea of selling the Marion County jail property to a private vendor. The idea is to sell the land, then lease the property and possibly buy it back in the future. The Marion County Sheriff's Office will run the jail no matter who owns the property. Many residents said they are unsure of the benefits of selling the jail.
"Was it worth it?”
That’s the question Marion County resident Michael Council hopes county commissioners will answer before selling this property. The county owns the Marion County jail property, but it's run by the Sheriff's Office. A portion of this jail was paid for with taxpayer dollars. Vice Chair Stan McClain has now proposed the idea of selling the property to a private company.
"I said maybe this is one of the things we can do get some cash to help us bridge the gap," said McClain.
"The gap" between what Sheriff Chris Blair said he needs to run his office and what the county can afford. In selling the property the county would get a chunk of money upfront...and then lease back the jail.
"At the end of that period did we save any money? Did we make any money? Was it worth the transaction of going through re-selling and re-buying the property," said Council.
McClain said the board will only approve this "idea" if it's beneficial to the sheriff's budget.
"One of the things we are trying to figure out is how we can use the money. I believe the only way we will be able to use it is to fund what we call infrastructure. So we would be able to use it to buy cars," said McClain.
One resident said if the money is going towards public safety, then she supports putting the jail up for sale.
"That means people will be safer. There will be more officers on the streets and it would be safer for our children," said Ashley Marques.
Capt.James Pogue with the sheriff's office told me they have yet to receive any information or details on this issue. So they prefer not to comment. According to McClain, jail employees will not be at risk of losing their jobs. Commissioners are expected to have specific information and data within the next two months.
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