Marion County Jail Purchase Negotiations Delayed
Published July 15th, 2014
MARION COUNTY---To sell or not to sell...
That is the question Marion County Commissioners revisited today regarding the Marion County Jail.
50 million dollars is up for grabs and some residents have reservations about the deal.
"You know, I'm in the middle because it could be good or it could be bad," said Marion County resident Hale Watts.
Taxpayers like Watts have been keeping up with negotiations within the county commission regarding the sale of the Marion County Jail.
"The experience they've had with other jails doing this has been good and some have been bad,"said Watts.
"We don't want to raise taxes so we're just kinda looking at some options," said Marion County Commissioner Stan McClain.
Back in January, Commissioner McClain was approached by Corrections Corporation of America about purchasing the jail for $50 million.
"It would be a 40-year purchase," said Commissioner McClain. "But then we would also have to lease the building, lease the grounds back from them and that's what the sticking point has been up to this point."
There are four options the commission has been considering on how to finalize this deal with CCA.
Commissioners have extended the negotiation deadline from August 15 to September 30th to buy more time for Commissioner McClain.
"I haven't had an opportunity to evaluate some of that because we've been in our budget workshops so that's been taking up a lot of our time," said McClain.
Sheriff Chris Blair has been assured by commissioners that that he will still be able to run the jail and keep his staff there.
The Sheriff has not been involved the discussions with CCA and the commission, but his office worries that CCA might be able to bring in prisoners to the jail from other counties.
"If these are hardened criminals that are brought into our community, into our jail, and then they get released, they get released into our community," said Captain James Pogue with the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
The sale of the jail would help with public works expenditures, like buying more patrol cars and bringing in better deputies for the Sheriff's Office.
And some residents say they might be willing to take the risk in selling the jail, because of that.
"I would say go ahead and lease it out. Sell it and lease it back," said Watts.
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