Sullivan County officials are spending more money to operate their current jail in Monticello than if they were to build a new one with a more efficient design and a larger capacity, an audit by the state comptroller’s office found.
The just-released report said the facility, the oldest county jail in the state built in 1909, should be replaced sooner than later.
The audit said the cost of a new jail would be fully offset by payroll, inmate boarding and facility cost savings within 33 years, with projected savings over the 50 year life of a new jail of $108 million. It cost the county $10.5 million to operate the jail in 2011.
The state said because of the larger capacity of a new jail, the county could also collect revenues for boarding inmates from other counties or the federal government, which could further reduce the breakeven point and increase the projected savings.
The county legislature has explored constructing a new jail and even had a site selected, but the costs of the property and construction made it prohibitive to move forward. The state, though, said the delay in building a new jail “is risking inevitable expenditures the county can ill afford, whether it is from escalating construction costs or the greater costs that would be necessary if the county had to board-out all of its inmates because [state Commission on Correction] forced the county to close its jail.”
The key recommendation in the state comptroller’s audit is that the county should “consider the advantages of replacing their jail sooner than later.”