CLARKESVILLE - The Habersham County Board of Commissioners will vote to consider or approve one of three options in regards to the funding of a new county jail located on the property adjacent to the current jail on West Water St. in Clarkesville. The three options that will be discussed at Monday night's Board of Commissioners meeting are:
1) Call for a voter approved bond referendum with a 30-year amortization in the amount of $33.7 million on the November 2019 election;
2) Request the State Legislative Delegation to approve the creation of a Public Facilities Authority with the power to issue bonds for construction of County facilities at the request of the County Commission;
3) A Commission defined alternative.
Recognizing the struggles of getting the public to pass a $33.7 million bond referendum, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Stacy Hall gave insight into this process. "It's certainly not something that anybody's is excited to pay for," Hall says while speaking on The Morning Dish, "but unfortunately over the past couple of years, we've seen a significant spike in crime in Habersham County mostly due to drugs and the majority of that opioid related."
Hall would go on to discuss why this is something that needs to be acted upon so quickly. "Our jail population has exploded. Our current jail was built to house 130 inmates, we range from anywhere between 160 and 220," Hall states, adding, "it fluctuates between 30 and 50 inmates that we outsource at twice the expense to house outside of our jail." Housing detainees in other county facilities costs Habersham County additional funds due to transportation costs, housing fees paid to other county jails, medical costs, and other expenses, this according to the proposal of the vote.
Overpopulation isn't the only issue at hand either. The issue of being able to classify inmates is brought up. The current jail does not allow for the proper classification of inmates which exacerbates behavior problems due to placing inmates with different classifications together without appropriate segregation.
The County Manager's recommendation can be read in full here.