GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Commissioners met at the Gallia Courthouse with county bond counsel and an Ohio Valley Bank representative Thursday to sign paperwork shoring up financial resources in order for the county to move forward on constructing a new jail facility.
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution with language describing the motion as a “resolution authorizing the issuance of not to exceed $5,000,000 of notes in anticipation of bonds of the county of Gallia, Ohio, for the purpose of paying costs of constructing a new county jail…”
Commissioners have estimated the jail’s construction to cost between $10 million to $15 million. The initial $5 million the county agreed to Thursday in a financial obligation with Ohio Valley Bank will be utilized to pay initial construction costs and planning for the jail project. Commissioners said they will eventually settle on a bond agreement to finance the jail. The resolution passed is a first step in paying planning costs before the final cost of the jail’s construction is determined.
According to County Administrator Karen Sprague, the life on the final financing bonds is anticipated to be between 30 to 40 years. Interim financing must be paid within three years and will be paid off through the final financing arrangement.
Commissioners passed a quarter of a percent sales tax increase in January to cap Gallia’s total sales tax at 7.25 percent in order to pay for increasing costs associated with Gallia’s drug epidemic, criminal justice issues and a new jail’s construction.
The current jail is reportedly around 70 years-old and unable to meet the needs of current state standards and an overcrowded inmate population. Controversy has surrounded the facility with area residents and officials voicing concern about both the safety of inmates and corrections officers in regard to a variety of issues. Investigations by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are currently being conducted of the facility surrounding the deaths of inmates within the last year.
County officials openly voiced talks of building a new jail early in the year. Officials said they had been exploring options to alleviate inmate overcrowding for the last few years, however, as Gallia Jail structural issues have been ongoing.
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.