For several years, the city of Littlefield has actively worked to sell the Bill Clayton Detention Center. The facility has been vacant for four years and multiple attempts to sell it have fallen through. The lack of sale has left the city to pay the almost $10 million note.
Now, the city is taking a new approach to full-filling that debt, by taking the facility off of the market. Instead, they city plans to lease it.
The Bill Clayton Detention Center was built in 1999. Mismanagement within the facility and an eventual vacancy, left the city with a debt of more than $9 million.
"We try and pay, approximately $800,000 a year in principal and interest on the facility to meet the debt obligation," city manager Mike Arismendez said.
The city has tried to sell the prison on several occasions, but potential buyers have backed out.
"Well, the selling aspect is difficult because there aren't a whole lot of people looking to buy a prison," Arizmendez said.
The city has decided to take the BCDC off of the market, and instead, lease it. Currently, they are working to lease the facility to the state or federal government, to house inmates or detainees.
"The plan that we have is to get the facility filled and get a contract on it and then we'll begin the prospect of looking for a buyer after that," Arismendez said.
Arismendez says having a prison that is already in use and generating income through the lease, makes it a more attractive purchase to potential buyers. It would also help the city of Littlefield pay the note. However, until it's leased, Arismendez says property and sales taxes help to pay for it. When needed, the city dips into reserve funds.
"Of course, it would be nice to try and free that money up and be able to use it for other things, but we're meeting the services for those in the city of Littlefield, while also meeting the debt obligation," Arismendez said.
The long term goal is to help free the city from the debt of the BCDC, altogether. Until then, Arismendez says he is hopeful the new approach will pay off.