Plans to Expand County Jail
By Carol Rush
Larimer County Commissioners have written into the 2019 budget funding for the expansion of the county jail at a cost of $75 million. This is to be accomplished without a public vote on the expansion by using funds from the County’s capital project fund but also through what is called “Certificates of Participation” which is a lease/purchase transaction used to raise money for capital expenditures. This has been used successfully in the past by the County. The county makes an annual payment to investors on a lease for the project, plus interest payments. In this current proposal, $6.9 million would be borrowed the first year.
The County held a public forum on June 1 which included a panel of County officials plus people who work in the field of justice and with those impacted by the justice system. It is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IueqA2dRRk. Good information was brought out at this forum. The need for updating and expanding meeting rooms was agreed upon. However, opponents of the expansion expressed concern that this capital expansion is not going to a public vote, argued that more services need to be offered by the community to keep people from going to jail in the first place (like comprehensive mental health care, affordable housing, access to public transportation.) Opponents praised the state-wide effort to eliminate cash bail for those awaiting a court hearing. As this new law goes into effect, it should reduce the number of people stuck in jail awaiting a court hearing.
This matter of the jail expansion is a multi-faceted issue. The Larimer County League of Women Voters is hosting a public meeting on Monday, June 24, 2010 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Pathways Hospice located at 305 Carpenter Road, Fort Collins, 80524. Local community member Sidna Rachid, who has researched this matter, and Linda Hoffman, Larimer County Manager, are scheduled panelists. You are encouraged to attend and ask your questions.