Clay County Commissioners accepted a resolution Monday to proceed toward the construction of a new jail facility which recommends the County Council explore funding options.
An affidavit submitted by Paul Downing, director of detention services with the Ind. Department of Corrections, listed 23 deficiencies at Clay County Jail. The jail is under a consent decree from the U.S. District Court as it fails to meet American Correctional Assoc. Jail Standards.
"My main concern has always been the safety and welfare for county citizens and staff at the jail. It's a bold step forward and it's time to take it," David Parr, commissioner president, said.
He said the jail advisory committed met recently and made several suggestions. First on the list was demolition of buildings at the site across from the court house. Secondly, surrounding properties need to be obtained and a title search is currently underway. A new location for Athens Ambulance Service must be found. A water line and fiber optics tunnel needs to be addressed to determine what needs to be done with the utilities.
Included in the current list of recommendations is document storage.
"We're looking into what we have, what we need to keep and what we can destroy. Some records need to stay here (in the court house) and others can be sent to the State Archives building in Indianapolis," Joe Dierdorf, county auditor, said.
In other business, commissioners:
- Passed the second reading of the National Flood Insurance Program, allowing the county to participate in NFIP. Any county resident can purchase the insurance on a voluntary basis as soon as all paperwork is complete, which ought to take 45-60 days according to Commissioner Daryl Andrews.
- Accepted a $15,000 Federal Emergency Management Assoc. grant. PDK Enterprises of Wabash, Ind. will complete contract work for $11,582 as some work was already done by Gerri Husband, emergency management director, saving about $4,000 for future emergency/hazard planning use.
- Approved Court House second floor renovation project, pending County Council approval for funds. Clay County Superior Court Judge's chambers will be the former health department space and the jury room will house Phoenix Community Corrections. After both parties contributing $8,500, an additional $23,200 is needed for the remodeling project.
- Tabled signing deeds that would allow the purchase of 240 acres of Owen County land that had been donated to the board of the former Clay County Hospital. Attorney James Deal requested commissioners to sign the deeds even though the hospital board had not decided how to spend the proceeds. Once the deeds are signed, commissioners would have no say as to how the proceeds would be spent; therefore, a meeting was set for May 20 so that commissioners could speak with board members to determine how they plan to spend the money.
County Council approves CAGIT increase on first reading
By MICHELE DRISCOLL
Times Staff Writer
Clay County Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to increase the CAGIT tax for new jail construction at its regular meeting last night.
County Adjusted Gross Income Tax will increase by .25 percent if the second reading is passed at a special meeting set for 7 p.m. May 19 in Clay County Superior Court. Beginning July 1, CAGIT will total 1.25 percent only until financing of the project is complete for a period of no longer than 30 years. New jail construction includes not only the facility itself, but demolition of existing structures on the property previously obtained, purchase of surrounding property and other related expenses.
Council members encourage county citizens to attend the meeting.
"The question is not can we afford to build a new jail but rather, can we afford not to," Les Harding, council president, said.
He said since the county is under a federal court order to improve conditions at the jail and if the county fails to do so, the federal court could close the jail. Inmates would then have to be housed at other county jails, costing tax payers thousands of dollars. And if the federal government takes over new jail construction, it could cost triple the amount than if Clay County proceeds with the project.
In other business, Council members approved additional appropriations even though they were cautioned by Harding that cash flow projections were bleak due to no spring state tax draw because of delayed reassessments.
As of June 1, all of the $2,900,000 budget is spoken for except $622,000. With $375,000 month budgeted, that leaves a negative cash balance of -$42,000 as of Sept. 1.
Joe Dierdorf, county auditor, said the county could borrow against other funds such as reassessment, 9-1-1 and the cumulative bridge fund.
"We began Jan. 1 with a $1.6 million cash balance and it would've grown if we had tax dollars in. Once reassessment values are in, it will take two more months in the auditor's office before the treasurer's office can proceed with the billing statements. So I'm not sure if we'll even be able to collect in August. It's a little disturbing when five other Indiana counties have collected," Dierdorf said.
In other business, the Council:
- Approved an additional $23,200 for the second floor renovation project at the court house. Clay County Superior Court Judge's chambers will take the former health department space and the jury room will house Phoenix Community Corrections. The judge had budgeted $4,000 for the project and Phoenix Community Corrections contributed $4,500 toward the total cost of the project.
- Approved moving $1,200 from Surveyor's Cornerstone Contract Recovery fund to identify survey brass pins located under county roads. At a cost of $100 per pin, 12 pins will potentially be located. If the project is proven to work, additional pins will be purchased in order to prevent digging up roads to locate pins.
- Approved moving $3,201 from the sheriff's title check fees in order to install computers in each sheriff deputy car.
- Approved moving $2,200 to the county's general emergency management fund to purchase a laptop computer and overhead projector for training purposes. This money was granted to the fund by Clay County Community Foundation.