$31 million bond being put in the hands of Habersham County voters (UPDATED)

HABERSHAM CO. - Habersham County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve the resolution for a $31 million bond to fund a new jail during their Monday night meeting.

The board felt it was a good idea to let the people vote on this bond this fall. Before taking a vote, Commissioner Crawford stated, “what better way to see our government in action than to put it to the people.” 

The board went on to state that this was an issue they had been discussing for some time now due to the current jail having issues with overcrowding. According to the board, the funds from the bonds would be used to build a 314-bed jail and to hopefully aid in making the operations of the jail more efficient and to keep both the detainees plus staff safe. 

According to County Manager Phil Sutton, if the bond gets approved by Habersham voters in November, it would authorize a property tax levy of 1.38 mils. This number would come to average around $71.76 per year per average resident. 

Habersham County Sheriff, Joey Terrell, spoke with WCHM regarding the bond, stating that the number is closer to $32 million. Terrell went further to state that “if we wait a year or two more, we’ll be looking at 35 (million dollars).” 

Terrell describes the bond as a “big thing”, and went on to state that “it’s more than just housing inmates.” 

Terrell addressed the question people ask him of why a 314-bed jail and if that is too big or not, by stating “we’re going to break this thing down into pods, pods of 32 beds.” He goes on to mention a study that states this 32-bed number is a “good manageable size,” explaining that if they went bigger than that then they would have to move to “direct supervision” which would require more personnel. 

“There’s U.S. Supreme Court decisions that mandate what we do,” Terrell states regarding why the jail would be planned to be built this way if the bond is voted yes later this year.

It was a unanimous 5-0 decision by the board and Habersham County voters will see this on the ballot in the November 5th election. The last day to register to vote for this election is October 7th.