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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/31/2013 2:29:00 PM
New jail plan grows far past $12M estimate: Supervisors starting over, mull possible 'jail tax'
Supervisor Chip Davis: “The process was hijacked ... courts systems, the probation system, the juvenile court system - it just got out of hand. Now we’re basically starting over.”
Supervisor Chip Davis: “The process was hijacked ... courts systems, the probation system, the juvenile court system - it just got out of hand. Now we’re basically starting over.”
By Scott Orr
Contributing Reporter

PRESCOTT - When the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors gave the green light in May 2012 to preliminary planning for a new county jail to be located in Prescott, then-Supervisor Carol Springer said she felt that the facility could be built for about $12 million, a number that the board accepted as realistic.

But, Sheriff Scott Mascher said Wednesday at the board's retreat that the project has grown as more and more features were added to what was supposed to be a basic jail. The price tag has grown as well, to the point that the supervisors contemplated the need for an additional sales tax to finance the project.

"I was at that meeting," Supervisor Craig Brown said, "I was in the audience" - he hadn't yet been elected - "and (Springer) said $12 million, period. Now, you're coming to me and saying it's something else."

Capital Improvements Coordinator Jim Holst said the project as it stands could cost "in the neighborhood of $20 million."

"It was turning into a justice center," Supervisor Tom Thurman said, adding that Mascher had come to him, concerned that he hadn't asked for that.

"We knew the five-member board was coming," Chairman Chip Davis said, "and we felt it was not appropriate to go into detailed planning" until the new members were in place.

"The process was hijacked," he continued, by the "courts systems, the probation system, the juvenile court system - it just got out of hand. Now we're basically starting over."

Mascher agreed. "It got to where I was in disagreement with how it was coming about," he said. Eventually, he added, the plan would have been for a facility about the same size as the Camp Verde jail, with a much larger price tag than he expected.

"So (we) regrouped, and we determined what we needed and what we wanted to do," Mascher said, noting that he had requested a 240- to 300-bed jail.

Thurman said he and Mascher had agreed to "slow the process down," but that the $12 million figure was "throwing mud at the wall to see what would stick."

He said the Juvenile Justice Center, which was built for roughly the $12 million figure Springer quoted, was started when the economy was worse, when contractors needed to keep their people working and would take on projects for less money.

"Things are getting better (now), and I don't see how we're going to get contractors to be doing these things for cost only (anymore)," Thurman said. "I would estimate it's now in the $15 million to $18 million range, and I'm going to tell you right now, we don't have it."

He said the only way to get the project done was to generate more revenue.

"We need to really get serious about going back to the public and saying, 'We really need that quarter-cent or half-cent (tax) if you want a jail,'" he said.

Thurman added that the board needed to have an architect design the building so it could get an accurate estimate of the cost to build a jail.

Supervisor Rowle Simmons echoed those comments. "We can't go to the public and say, 'Well, we think we may need $15 million to $18 million, but it could be $20 million.'"

Davis said the topic would be placed on a future board agenda, when they could discuss it and vote.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ verde voter

"Self-funded by the inmates"?! You mean like the Soviet Gulag? I agree the first priority should be to reduce the number of criminals. But be careful what you wish for.

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: verde voter

NOPE. We have been taxed to death. NO new tax. In fact lower them. It is time to split the county. Prescott can remain yavapai. Verde valley will be the new "Verde County" we do not want to be part of the prescott waste of taxpayer money fighting in lawsuits and creating more jails. Jails should be self funded by the inmates.

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: Legalize Marijuana and there would be a drop in the crime rate...

which means there would be no need for another jail...less deputies would be needed.... less attorneys...less judges...less rehab facilities...less probation officers equals saving Yavapai County $$$$. And that is before a tax is imposed on it as another source of income.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Justice

I believe that this county is on the right track that will eliminate crime completely. Throw half the population in jails and hire the other half to guard them. Yavapai County a nice place to visit but I'm outa here.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: Tina Vigilante

Another increase in Sales Tax to build a new jail on the people who can afford it the least. Typical Republican idea! We don't need a new jail, we need to legalize non violent drug use, and release non violent criminals. Honestly the stupidity.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

Is Prescott trying to be the prison center of the world? Just stop putting innocent people in jail for victimless crimes!

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: debbie franz

I have lived in 4 states, not California. The town
of Prescott and Prescott Valley have the highest taxes. People on fixed incomes especially cannot afford more taxes. Its time
to stop the over taxation here.

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Article comment by: taxed to death

When will this tax crap end. We are closing in on California. Why don't you supervisors do your jobs and start thinking outside the box. Maybe we can cut from somewhere else , or maybe we can put non threating offenders on home arrest. Building jails is the worst investment of money that i can think of. Also look into vacant schools. Do your jobs.

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Article comment by: william gauslow

sounds like the project scope kept getting larger at each meeting. where did you start from and where are you at now ?

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

The cult only knows how to put people in cages. They aren't human enough to discuss anything else.

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