Habersham Co. - On November 5th of this year, Habersham County voters will be the deciders on a nearly $32 million bond.
With a 5-0 vote during the Habersham County Board of County Commissioners meeting, on July 15th, the board voted to put this in the hands of the people and let them decide on whether or not they want an increased millage rate to pay for the $31.7 million bonds.
Commissioner Stacey Hall spoke on this topic and discussed why this bond is a big issue for the county.
Hall began by stating that back in March, the commission voted on how to finance the jail and that now, voting on the bond is the next step.
Hall went on to state that this $32 million bond was estimated to be higher when they first voted on it back in March. He stated that it was closer to $33.6 million and going further on how they came to the number it is now by stating, “we’ve been crunching the numbers hard.”
Hall states that it took a lot of consultations with “all kinds of folks,” to get this $33 million cost down to a more accurate jail size.
When asked about if the commission has sought other options, Hall responded by saying, “we’ve been chasing down every one of those options. This is where we think is the best course of action.” Hall addressed the concerns of many who ask what would happen if the bond is not passed. He states that if this happens, then Habersham would be “stuck where we are.” Hall elaborates, stating “There are options, none of them are good because we still are stuck with the same situation.”
According to commissioner Hall, the current jail was built for 130 but currently houses an estimate of 160 people. On average, 30 to 50 inmates have to be outsourced daily in order to aid the overcrowding issue. This overcrowding issue results in inmates being outsourced which costs for transportation as well as housing costs for other jails to house the inmates plus additional personnel costs. Hall states that in the next 30 years, the jail will need around 314 beds to avoid this issue reoccurring.
“Noncompliance issues combined with overcrowding is a problem,” states Hall. He goes further to state that currently the jail has 70 noncompliance issues. “That’s a problem because it opens us for significant issues if we don’t do something about it.”
Hall states that this bond will be building a jail for the future. “It’s not only about being wise and judicious with our taxpayer dollars, it’s about doing the exact same thing in the future.”