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County Council Takes Next Step Toward Jail Expansion

Daniel Prince

Proposed addition will add 64 beds and provide space to separate inmates

Union County is another step closer to expanding the detention center. At Tuesday night’s Union County Council meeting, the council voted to appropriate $375,000 to utilize the architectural firm Moseley Architects on the project. Moseley has offices in Charlotte, Columbia, and Charleston, among others. Supervisor Frank Hart said the group comes highly recommended because one of their specializations is prison work. The firm will do the architectural design; all the mechanical and electrical; putting together the bid documents; prequalifying the firms; and selecting the contractor. They originally quoted the county a price of $550,000 to do all that, but after negotiating, they agreed to $375,000. The money will come from the American Rescue Plan Act funds that the county has. They submitted a preliminary cost opinion of $6.5 million to do the expansion. The proposed addition would add 64 beds to the jail and would provide space to be able to segregate inmates who needed to be separated from others for safety and liability purposes. Hart said that after purchasing some equipment for EMS and providing employee incentives, $2.1 million remains of the original American Rescue Plan Act funds, with another $2.7 million coming this year. He asked council to go ahead and earmark those funds for the jail expansion; otherwise, he said taxpayers would be hit with a much greater financial burden for the project. If all $4.8 million is used, that would leave the county on the hook for at least $1.7 million to complete the project, but that total figure would likely go higher due to cost increases and other unforeseen problems. Dr. Flood clarified that earmarking the money for that purpose doesn’t necessarily commit the remaining funds, as council could change direction and later vote to use the money for something else. Council unanimously voted to allocate the $375,000 in architectural fees from the ARPA funds and to earmark the remaining ARPA money to use toward the expansion.

In other business from the meeting, Union County Council unanimously approved second reading of an ordinance enacting a lease agreement with MycoWorks for the property at 103 West Main Street to use as its corporate offices. The location currently houses the Union County Tourism and Community Development offices.

Council also unanimously approved first reading in title only of the 2022-2023 county budget. Council will begin work developing the coming year’s budget in a series of workshops beginning on Tuesday, April 19.
They also unanimously approved first reading in title only of an ordinance for the sale and conveyance of county-owned property to the Union-Laurens Commission on Higher Education. USC Union is in the process of acquiring the City Park property from the county.

We’ll have more from the meeting in later newscasts.

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