Why should we share a jail?
- Save $47 million plus interest and be just as SAFE!
- Save at least $1.5 million per year on operating costs!
- Our taxes will go down, NOT up and through the roof!
- Prevent the largest expense in Greene County history.
- Transportation costs will be almost identical to a new Coxsackie jail.
- We won’t quadruple our debt by adding $55 million to our current $13 million debt.
- High debt would limit our options for decades to come.
- NY State will award us as much as $5 million on top of our savings
- What would you like to see in Greene County’s future instead??
Concerns about a shared jail:
Is it permissible for two counties to share a jail in NYS?
It is neither expressly permitted nor expressly prohibited by NYS law for two counties to share a jail. County Law section 217 and Corrections Law section 500 speak most directly to this subject and the generally understood perspective held by those in a position to authorize a shared jail in the Governor’s Office for Public Safety and Commission of Correction is that minor modification of these sections of law would need to happen before a shared jail could be finalized. There is an opinion issued by the NYS Attorney General, however, indicating that regional jails are permissible.
- Corrections Law 500 contains 47 special exceptions for different counties and the proposed modifications would take the form of such a special exception specifically authorizing a shared jail for Greene and Columbia counties.
- Commonly held belief by State and other criminal justice officials is that these modifications could happen quickly during the current legislative session. In fact, there is currently a bill in the Senate that would go above and beyond the authorization that would be necessary for the Greene-Columbia project.
What will happen with Corrections Officer jobs?
- There are currently only 31 corrections officers employed at the Greene County Jail with 6 authorized positions vacant. Greene County has historically had a difficult time with recruitment and had open positions for many years.
- In the event of a shared jail, corrections officers could be absorbed by the new facility or transferred to other positions within the Greene County Sheriff’s office or in other county departments or offered severance and/or early retirement packages from resultant savings.
Wouldn’t there be an economic benefit from construction?
While a substantial construction project can result in temporary construction jobs and material purchasing, as a municipal project, construction of a jail in Coxsackie would be regulated by a bid process that would limit any potential economic impact.
- Specifically, in a municipal bid process, the contract must be awarded to the low bid, absent a serious challenge to the qualifications, REGARDLESS OF THE LOCATION OF THE COMPANY OR INDIVIDUAL. That is, local preference can not trump the low bid.
- Given the size of this proposed project, it will likely attract the attention of major construction outfits and material vendors from well beyond our area and it is highly likely that out-of-county bidders will prevail.
Couldn’t we build an oversized jail in Greene County and charge other jurisdictions to house overflow inmates?
The idea that Greene County could generate revenue by charging other jurisdictions to “board-in” their inmates is simply unrealistic. Many county jails, including the Columbia County jail, are operating significantly under capacity and all indicators suggest that incarcerated populations will continue to further decline.
Could Greene County lose sales tax dollars to Columbia County from staff and visitor expenditures?
While there may be ancillary expenditures by staff (31 +/-) and visitors of the inmate population (which is currently fluctuating between 40-50), any lost sales tax dollars will be microscopic in comparison to the tax impact of an $80 million (including interest) jail construction project.
What would it cost to revamp the Columbia County Jail so that it could be shared?
Experts have ballparked the costs of the upgrades to be $15 million. This expense will be split by both counties which will reduce Greene County’s burden to roughly $7.5 million. $7.5 million vs. $51.4 million for a new jail in Coxsackie. This cost would include stabilizing the grounds near the facility from a mud slide. A feasibility study will allow us to have a better handle on all costs associated with revamping the existing Columbia County jail to be shared with Greene County.
Can we trust Columbia County?
Our leaders have an opportunity to craft a long-term contract with Columbia County and Columbia County is extremely willing and motivated. Both counties stand to save monumental tax dollars by splitting upgrades and operational expenses, however, Greene has much more to gain, as we must vacate our current jail soon and face the prospects of a $51.4 million construction project as an alternative. We currently share a college and that arrangement has been working nicely for some time.
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