The opening of the new Jackson County Jail will be delayed until next year in an effort to save money. The jail had been slated to open this summer, but that has been moved back to early 2010.
Postponing the opening of the jail until next year will mean a $663,400 savings in personnel costs. The county had planned to hire 57 additional staff for the new jail; now, only 20 new hires will be added on in 2009.
“Several meetings have been held to make sure we have a good plan to bring the jail on line as quickly as is feasible,” board of commissioners chairman Hunter Bicknell said at a meeting Monday night. “It is prudent to be very deliberate in this process and not go as fast as we might otherwise go if our budget conditions were somewhat different.”
He added that the sheriff will likely move into the administrative part of the jail before the inmates are brought in. The completion of the jail is slated for July and the administrative portion will likely be used then.
“At this point, the inmate housing part of the new facility will not open until 2010 and then possibly only a portion depending on funding availability and staffing,” Sheriff Stan Evans said Tuesday. “The administration part of the new facility could possibly open before the actual housing portion. We are still looking at this and will not know for sure until further study as our overall operation is entwined together and sometimes what affects one affects the other…I don’t know about other county operations but we are taking these precautions so that more drastic measures down the road may be prevented…We are committed to saving as much as possible and doing more than our part to help the county through the financial crisis and I expect the county government as a whole to make the same commitment to cutting expenses for the sake of the Jackson County taxpayer.”
The 20 new employees will be trained and prepare the opening of the jail. They will also train other new hires.