Monday, April 6, 2020
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Commission To Make Jail Decision Soon

The Putnam County Commission will have to decide soon whether or not to move forward with expanding the jail and justice center.

County Mayor Randy Porter said if the commission decides to move forward, they will need to make decisions about future parking.

“The first decision you have to make is do you want the addition to go (on the current site),” Porter said. “If you do, then ya’ll have to decide that. If that’s what you decide, then we need to lock this other land-at least all of it or some of it-in for parking for the new facility. That would need to be on the agenda probably in March. The very latest would be April because the options are going to run out and some of the folks are not going to extend them anymore.”

Preliminary plans for the project would expand both the justice center and jail into parking areas along East Spring, Locust Avenue, and S. Lowe Avenue. The building additions would provide several new courtrooms and at least 600 additional beds for the jail.

The county has taken options on several pieces of property for replacing the lost parking spaces. Those properties would provide 627 new spaces and cost $2,178,000.

Architects with Cope and Associates provided the county commission with an update about the project this week. They estimated the jail expansion to cost at least $35 million and the courthouse expansion $19 million. The commission must also make a decision about funding a new school with an estimated $45 million price tag.

County Mayor Randy Porter said the goal is to fund all three projects within the county’s current bond capacity.

“But there’s going to have to be cooperation between the sheriff, school board, and county commission, You can’t go build all of this at once,” Porter said. “It’s going to have to be in stages, and you’re going to have to prioritize some of it. Your bonding capacity is about $80 million right now without raising taxes to do that. So you’re going to have to try to make all that fit to be able to do that.”

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