County officials open low-risk portion of jail expansion project -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

County officials open low-risk portion of jail expansion project

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From Smith County:

The first leg of construction for the $35 million, voter approved jail bond is now open for business. On Friday, December 21, Smith County elected officials cut the ribbon on the Low Risk portion of the Smith County Expansion Project which includes new kitchen and laundry facilities and a video visitation area. 

This first phase of construction included relocation of the Smith County kitchen and laundry facilities in order to streamline jail services. The addition of a video visitation station will improve safety and security during the visitation process. Construction of the Low Risk Facility portion of the jail project took less than one year to complete and will free up space in the downtown jail location for the second phase of construction to continue.

"It's been a long time coming and a long time overdue, but thanks to this Commissioner's Court and the public's confidence, we see a brighter future," Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith said.

A total of $40.875 million in bonds were issued in July, 2011; $35 million for the jail bond at an interest rate of 2.564 percent and the refunding of about $5 million in existing county debt at 1.7489 percent interest. Due to the high bond ratings that Smith County received from Standard & Poor's and Moody's and  falling interest rates, the County will pay off the jail bond much faster and less expensively than originally anticipated.

The jail bond was structured with a 12 year amortization schedule, which is three years shorter than originally projected. When combined with the lower interest rate of the re-issued debt, Smith County is set to save approximately $376,000 in total interest expenses.

"We are proud that we will be able to pay this off even sooner and save money for the citizens of Smith County because of these lower rates and our high bond rating," County Judge Joel Baker said.

Smith County Low Risk Facility, located at 2811 Public Rd. in Tyler.

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