Dodge Jail a Step Closer to Opening, Still Costing Taxpayers

6:24 PM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
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It's been 17 months since construction finished up, but the new Dodge county Jail still has no inmates.

County leaders have struggled to find the funds to hire additional staff and purchase equipment needed to open up.

Even though the doors remain locked, that hasn't kept out the problems.

"What we do now is we're trying to just fix and stay ahead," says Sheriff Jeff Hinson.

Hinson says the contractors warranty ran out on June 15. Since then fixing issues like a leaky roof or a backed up water system come out of his budget.

"Having those kinds of problems already early on, I'm sure time we get in we'll have even more problems," he says.

It cost about $5 million initially in SPLOST money to build the jail, but even though it's sitting empty it still costs the taxpayers money.

The Sheriff's Office says since the warranty ran out they've paid a little more than $3,000 for repairs.

Add that to the $14,000 spent on up-keep at the old jail since completion of the new one, and an average of $6,000 a month the Sheriff says they pay for electricity at the new building, then you get a total of about $119,000.

That's not including the nearly $26,000 spent just this year to house their prisoners in other counties because there's not enough room for them in the old jail.

"I think it should be used," says Dodge COunty taxpayer Larry Lann. "I mean why build something like that if you're not going to make use of it."

Some say the fact that the county hasn't made use of the new building shows breakdown in local government.

"I just feel terrible that we've had bitter fighting about our jail and things are being lost, money's being lost," say taxpayer Billy Vaughn.

Dodge County Commissioners this week did give the go-ahead to except bids for furnishing the rest of equipment needed. That includes mattresses, linens and uniforms for staff and prisoners.

That's a step in the right direction, according to the Sheriff. "You know we get to walk around and say it'd be nice to be here. Now we can see maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully the money will work out with the county."

County manager Bobby Peacock says he expects Commissioners to approve funding for the equipment as soon as the Sheriff brings them the bids.

Before they can open the jail the Sheriff has to hire 17 additional staff members. His office says that will cost about $548,000.

The county has not approved the money for that.

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