SPOKANE -- Last summer Spokane County Commissioners put building a new jail on the fast track. But a decision Tuesday slows that process down.
You won’t see a jail bond measure on a ballot in 2011. Commissioners decided to wait until next year to ask voters to pay for a new jail, despite the fact commissioners say the downtown facility and Geiger Corrections Center are overcrowded and inadequate.
The sheriff and commissioners warn the facilities are falling apart and can’t safely house inmates for much longer. But commissioners say they’re simply not ready to put a bond in front of voters, they want to take their time and do it right.
“The advantages of making this modest course correction are more time to sharpen our pencils and look for financing alternatives, said Commissioner Al French.
Commissioners also want to make sure land use issues won’t hold up the process.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has been begging for a new jail for years, say it has been in critical status recently, meaning full beyond capacity. But even Knezovich agrees with the decision to hold off.
“This is a vital process. If we have a legal challenge that could tie us up for years it could ultimately cost the citizens millions of dollars,” said Knezovich.
The original price tag on a new jail near Medical Lake was $250 million, but commissioners say they’ve brought that price down to $190 million. The earliest voters can expect to see a jail bond on the ballot is next year.