The Allen County commissioners want all options on the table when it's time to talk seriously about how to pay for a new jail that could cost $150 million.
The commissioners on Friday unanimously approved a contract for up to $5,250 with Elevatus Architecture. The local firm has agreed to help compile information needed if the county pursues county local income tax to fund the new jail.
The process was established by the Indiana legislature in 2018. The law allows counties to impose a tax rate for correctional facilities and rehabilitation facilities.
The law specifies that tax rates have to be in increments of 0.01% and not to exceed 0.2%. The rate cannot be set for more than 20 years.
Chris Cloud, the commissioners' chief of staff, said the work is being done now in case the commissioners decide to look at the county local income tax option for funding the jail project.
The Allen County Jail, which is routinely overcrowded, is the subject of a 2020 federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that alleges inmates' rights are being violated. The outcome of the lawsuit might force changes at the jail.
Elevatus Architecture completed a report that was commissioned by the county with two options – add an expansion or build a new jail. Sheriff David Gladieux supports building a new jail away from downtown.
After seeing the report in July, the commissioners approved a contract with Barnes & Thornburg law firm of Indianapolis to explore tax-exempt bonds and other municipal financing “to undertake a large confinement facility replacement plan.”
A new jail with space for 1,500 beds is expected to cost $150 million, county officials have said. The current jail has 741 beds, but it typically houses 850 inmates.