Keep new jail costs in mind

Published 8:28 pm Monday, February 18, 2013

Many Beaufort County residents, when it comes to building a new jail, believe the most important question is where to build it.
The most important question related to the new jail is how will it be paid for. Taxpayers’ money will be needed. Will the county get a grant, borrow money or a combination of the two to pay for a new jail? Will revenue generated by the sale of bonds have a role in paying for the new jail?
Yes, the location of the new jail is important. One faction wants to build in adjacent to the courthouse, which makes transporting inmates safer, it contends. Another faction supports building it outside of Washington’s downtown area.
Last week, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to located the new jail at the Beaufort County Industrial Park. The debate over the location of the new jail will continue, even after its location has been decided.
As reported last week, if the new jail will be built and when it will be built has yet to be decided. That leaves time for county officials to find the best way to pay for the new jail, a way that would least harm county taxpayers. The method chosen to pay for the new jail should provide taxpayers the biggest bang for their bucks yet with the new jail meeting the minimum standards for housing inmates. Those inmates should be housed in a safe building, of course, but they do not need all the comforts of home. After all, they’re in jail for a reason.
Taxpayers expect county officials to find the least-expensive method to build a new jail. The new jail must be efficient, not opulent. The new jail must be safe, not lavish. The new jail must be built with consideration toward not placing a burden on taxpayers.