Janet Barber

Grove Sun

JAY – Members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority set the date, rate and term for the next proposal to resolve the overcrowding situation in the Delaware County jail.

Members Wednesday voted, after much discussion, to build a 100 bed-facility, on-site, and pass a .5% sales tax increase to fund a 10-year note. The election is set for August 24.

Rick Smith, the trust’s financial advisor, presented figures detailing how much sales tax would be collected with a .3% sales tax increase. To this figure, he added operation and maintenance funds available to operate the jail and subtracted the operation and maintenance expenses for the three options of a 60, 82 or 100-bed facility.

All three options carried an annual shortfall of funds to operate the facility and repay the loan.

“You wouldn’t start a business out in the hole. I refuse to support anything that starts us out in the hole,” said Commissioner for District #2 Billy Cornell.

Attendees felt that they need to educate the voters about the county’s need for a larger jail facility to avoid legal ramifications from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which has brought suit against Delaware County for overcrowding in the present 62-bed jail facility.

The pending lawsuit is in litigation and should the county not find a solution, the fine might be from $1 to $10,000 per day per prisoner. This fine, if assessed, would appear on landowners;’ ad valorem tax rolls and would go to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Dave Kendrick, County Commissioner for District #3 said, “They assess a fine and let the fine educate them.”

“I hope a fine doesn’t happen, but maybe they’ll take notice if you get into their pocketbook,” said Cornell.

“The public needs to know that we’re worked very hard on these things. We’ve downsized and cut down costs, just like they’ve asked. We need the support of the public now,” he concluded.