County to Take 60 Days to Consider Solutions to Jail/Courthouse Dilemma
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Tom Green County Commissioners Tuesday began negotiations with KFA Architects to modify the jail construction contract to determine the cost of adding 224 beds to the new facility while it’s still under construction.
In what Pct. 1 Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher called, “Tough news just before Christmas,” County Judge Steve Floyd told the court the Texas Commission on Jail Standards requirements for running two jails as currently planned costs too much.
Floyd said it currently costs $7.7 million annually to operate the existing jail. That cost would increase by about $875,000 which the county does not have.
The court will take 60 days to consider all options which include adding already designed pods to the current construction so that they could shut down the existing jail and stay within the operating budget. Whatever they decide to do, adding 224 beds will require additional financing.
The additional need for the jail project also impacts remodeling plans for the county courthouse. Judge Floyd said they “have not found a viable solution to temporarily relocating the district courts” to allow for remodeling the courthouse. The county is considering using the four courtrooms on the first floor in the existing jail and adding two courtrooms on the second floor so the district courts can function there while the courthouse is being remodeled.
Renovations to the courthouse would have to wait until the new jail is completed. The current construction at the new jail site is expected to be complete by April of 2019. Construction of additional pods would take longer.
Also Tuesday morning commissioners approved designating the McNease Convention Center as a court for the January 11, 2018 capital murder trial of Isidro Delacruz. The move is necessary because the District Clerk has called 350 potential jurors for the high profile case.
The court also approved a short term public facility agreement with the city of San Angelo for rental of the convention center to select the jury. The cost to the county or renting the convention center is $1,850.
Commissioners also accepted a $4.55 million state grant to use to renovate 15 classrooms and the dining area at Goodfellow Air Force Base. The City of San Angelo Development Corporation is kicking in an additional $1.5 million and with in-kind donations the project is just under $9 million. The renovations are expected to bring 200 permanent personnel to GAFB and 2.400 students annually.
Tuesday’s meeting was the final meeting of the year for the court.