Jail Proposal Pros And Cons - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/9/2007-Smith Co.

Jail Proposal Pros And Cons

The defeat the Jail Bond Campaign Kicked-off this morning by the Citizens for the Right Jail Plan. With groups for and now against the proposed bond, KLTV sat down with both sides. 

"This is just a lousy business deal. It is a situation where they are throwing way too much money against the wall for what they are getting back for it," said Chairman Bobby Curtis.

"This was studied at length by very intelligent people and their argument has just been a quick knee jerk. They absolutely do not have the facts," said Chairman Herb Buie from the Build The Jail Committee.

The first thing said at the Defeat The Jail Bond kick-off was the pay raises for county officials.

"Before they had accomplished anything, except for showing up for work, they voted themselves a 45% pay raise for the Judge and 35% pay raise for the Commissioners," said Curtis.

"If you are going to get good people you are going to have to pay them. There is never a good time. No on ever wants to talk about raises in the county commissioners court," said Buie. "They are keeping you focused on pocket change in your hand, so to speak, while your pocket book is being ripped out the back. You are talking about a daily movement of prisoners and it costs $11,000 a day to move them to seven locations because we don't have the room."

The next reason the campaign against claims: Expandability.

"If we go with a high rise design, it limits how we can expand. We have to shell out now. We are putting this on a city block that is limited. We have got Broadway to the west, we have commercial buildings and a courthouse to the north, and railroad tracks to the east," said Former Smith County Commissioner David Stein. "So the only potential place is eliminated commercial buildings to the south or leap frogging those buildings that are there. We have other options. We are trying to force a square peg in a round hole in this area."

But Herb said the task force chose the location after months and months of research and planning.

"We have a plan that will take us out 20 years ... even 50 years," said Buie. "This is utilizing everything that we have and keeping everything in one place for the justice system, the jail, the Sheriff's office ... everything."

Another thing: Cost.

"I can't reconcile yet why this thing has the price tag that it does. The proposal last year was $47,000 per bed of the jail portion of this. This portion is $84,000. There is not that much inflation," Curtis said.

However Buie said the plan includes more than just a new jail.

"We have a 12 story jail. All the offices and space is included in this," said Buie.

"We need to lock in the cost and not be talking about doing something four years from now," said Buie. "[We need to be] already working on a plan that saves us 40 million dollars of the tax payers money."

Now a debate has been proposed by the Build The Jail committee, but the opposing group has refused and said they have nothing to debate.

Danielle Capper, Reporting. dcapper@kltv.com

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