Making an $83-Million Decision - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/4/02

Making an $83-Million Decision

What's your biggest fear if we don't get a new jail? "That we're going to continue to pay to operate this facility, we're going to house prisoners out of county, plus the maintenance that's associated with this facility," says Sheriff David Gutierrez. "Constant repair of the ceiling is needed, you have constant leaks throughout the facility. In the last three years they've spent over $5.3-million to maintain this facility," he says.

Gutierrez calls the Lubbock County Jail a money pit. And he says that is only where the headache begins. "We've had problems with contraband coming in through here, inmates have to come out here and get food out of the freezer. We've actually had escapes out here. This has been secured a number of times, and we finally got some expanded metal to reinforce this area so we wouldn't have any escapes."

The county built the jail in 1931, and Gutierrez says frankly, they have outgrown it. "If we did continue to expand the facility there's no room to move. The kitchen actually needs to be shut down for three months cause we have to redo the entire plumbing system, the sewer lines are disintegrating rapidly. The administrative offices are on the first and second floor and the water from plumbing, sewer, and everything upstairs runs down hill and everything goes down to the second floor," Gutierrez says.

Even the newest parts of the jail show visible wear and tear. Gutierrez says the most important reason to vote for a new jail are safety, security, and increasing operating cost.

Now here is the breakdown of cost to you. The county estimates the proposed jail would cost taxpayers about $4 per month for homeowners in a $70,000 house. That is an additional $48 in taxes per year. As for operating costs, county officials project that in 20 years the new jail will cost $33.42 per bed. That is less than a 1% decrease from today's costs.

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