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County Council Approves Funding for Jail Expansion at Special Meeting

Daniel Prince

American Rescue Plan Act funds, budgetary funds tapped for the projected $7.2 million cost

Less than three hours after being sworn in, Carolyn Rutherford took part in her first County Council meeting. The council had called a special meeting to discuss the project funding plan that Supervisor Frank Hart proposed at the council’s regular meeting last week. Council also needed to approve a resolution from the Catawba Regional Council of Governments. Council unanimously approved the resolution, which amended the operating agreement the county has with Catawba Regional.

The main focus of the meeting was the Project Funding Plan. The county has several proposed projects coming up, and council needed to agree on where the money for them would be coming from in the budget. The Union County Jail expansion was the top project on the list. Hart noted the final cost would not be known until the expansion was fully designed and bids came in, but at the meeting the previous week, Mosley Architects presented an update to council on the expansion project, asking for final approval of the schematic design phase and permission to move into the next phase of the project. The expansion would be a preengineered metal building, with most of the structure built off site and then brought in and assembled. It would add three units and 63 total beds, including an ADA-accessible cell on the main level. The design would be very staff efficient, with one guard able to observe all three units at once from the control room. A multipurpose room, laundry room, and recreation yards would be part of the expansion, as well. Bids could go out as early as December, and construction on the expansion could begin in spring 2023. The cost estimate that the architects brought to council came in at just over $7 million. At last week’s meeting, Neil McKeown talked about the need for the expansion:

(audio below story)

For the Project Funding Plan, Hart asked council to approve $7.2 million in funding for the jail expansion. $4.8 million of that will come from the county’s remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds. Of the remaining $2.4 million, $200,000 is proposed to come from bond proceeds, $300,000 from the multi-county fund, and the remaining $1.9 million from the community development fund. Council unanimously approved the funding plan.

Other projects discussed included a new spec building, improvements at recycling centers, additional costs for the South State Bank renovation, a UPS and generator system for the two bank buildings, a generator for the courthouse, and communications monitoring equipment for the fire service. We’ll have details on those projects in tomorrow’s news.

Neil McKeown on the need for the jail expansion
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