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Commission vote stalls jail design plans
County manager, sheriff defend need for timeliness
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Forsyth County News
County commissioners have placed plans to move forward with a new jail on hold.
A motion to allot funds for the second design phase in the preliminary planning of a new detention center failed 2-2 Tuesday, with commissioners David Richard and Jim Harrell in opposition.
Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse was out of town and did not attend the meeting. The motion, which will be put back on the July 1 work session agenda, failed temporarily for the lack of a majority.
The commission had previously approved the initial design phase for the jail, because according to County Manager Rhonda O'Connor getting started now will save money later.
"It will accelerate our schedule," O'Connor said. "There is a risk, but I'm trying to stay optimistic that the voters are going to support us."
What the board rejected Tuesday was the design development phase, for which the county would be reimbursed if voters approve a bond referendum in November.
If the referendum does not pass, however, $343,591 would come out of the county's capital fund. The total cost for the design development phase, which further illustrates details of the proposed jail, is $660,000.
About half of that money can come out of bail bond forfeiture money already allocated for the jail's construction.
Richard said he wasn't willing to take another gamble yet.
"We've already taken a pretty good leap of faith that something's going to pass," he said. "I'm not ready to spend more money on this particular crap shoot."
O'Connor said the county could save $810,000 by completing the three preliminary phases and moving the schedule up three months.
She got the figures by crunching numbers: the cost of inmates to stay at other facilities: $45 per day; the number of inmates at other facilities: 200; and a 90-day jump start on construction.
Sheriff Ted Paxton was present at the work session. "It's 90 days of savings," he said. "The entire county would certainly benefit from it.
"I have heard nothing but support from the community," he continued. "I have been throughout this community and I'm in it all the time."
Town hall meetings have been scheduled for August to discuss the possibility of the new 480-bed facility, which is estimated to cost $60 to $65 million, according to architects Pieper O'Brien Herr.