County moving forward on new jail

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A decade's worth of promises ended on Monday morning as the Butler County Commission unanimously voted to proceed forward with the building of a new county jail.

The commission's vote of approval allows Resse Rainey, a bond investment specialist with H.T. Capital Market, to prepare a preliminary statement on additional bond funding for the new jail, expected to cost between $3.5 million and $4 million.

Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris said she was glad the commission has finally come together to construct a new detention facility. Harris deals almost daily with a multitude of problems in the current 76-year old jail, from everything to overcrowding to a hit or miss steam-heating system.

&#8221I'm looking forward to being there for the ground breaking,“ she said of the new jail.

Commissioner Daniel Robinson (Dis. 4) said the commission decided to raise court costs the year he took office in 1996 in hopes the additional funding would pay for a new jail. The approximate $150,000 to $160,000 the county took in annually, he said, fell well short of an estimated annual windfall of over $200,000 associated with those costs.

Since then, the commission has saved that money, a total of $1.6 million, to build a new jail.

&#8221I think we're in a position to finally pull this off and I'm excited,“ said Robinson.

Still, the county will be forced to bond between $2 million and $2.5 million in order to build the 16,500-square foot, 53-bed facility.

That's a no-win situation according to Commissioner Jerry Hartin (Dis.1).

&#8221I'm glad we're in the process of moving forward with the jail,“ he said. &#8221I think if we wait it's going to end up costing us more money.“

In other business, the commission:

n Approved a recommendation by EMA Director Bob Luman to implement the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS, a computerized training program that teaches all emergency personnel the same modes of communication, must be implemented in the next year in order for the county to receive funds from FEMA.

n Approved the retention of Poole & Poole Attorneys as the county's legal representation for the fiscal year.

n Acknowledged that the state of Alabama has increased mileage rate to 48.5 cents per mile.

n Set holidays for county employees in the new fiscal year as follows: Veterans Day (Nov. 11), Thanksgiving (Nov. 24-25), Christmas (Dec. 23, Dec. 26), New Year's Day (Jan. 2), Martin Luther King's Birthday (Jan. 16), Memorial Day, (May 29), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (Sept. 2.)

n The commission approved a recommendation from the County Engineer Dennis McCall for a resolution authorizing equipment purchases for fiscal year 2005-06 in the county joint bid program and ALDOT contract to include one backhoe ($67,000), four tri-axle dump trucks ($365,700), one motor grader ($184,000), two tractors with mowers ($76,500), and one boom mower/tractor combo ($73,200).