WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. – Plans for a new jail in Webster County have hit a road block and now county officials are left searching for a way to overcome it.
For the past two years county officials have been excited, a new jail in the works, but when recent bids came back almost 20 percent higher than what was planned for emotions have changed.
“We’re continually overpopulated which leads to violence, contagious diseases and illnesses are ever present,” said Sheriff Roye Cole.
Cole said the Webster County Jail is almost double its 32 inmate daily capacity which is even more than its original capacity.
“I think it originally held like eight people. We have taken that same structure and expanded it not with square footage but redesigned the layout over and over throughout the years to try and hold more inmates,” Cole said.
In 2014 voters passed a quarter-cent law enforcement sales tax increase to build a new jail.
“It will have I believe 136 beds, then 14 beds for work release,” said Paul Ipock, Webster County Presiding Commissioner.
But now bids are coming back almost twenty percent higher than what the county budgeted for.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure the product we design is eventually what we get. Right now we have to determine if there will be a time delay, mortgaged out a certain way, whether we have to find certain interest rates to make that happen,” said Cole.
Ipock said they’re working alongside the architect.
“They’re bringing plans, new thoughts to us and we’re just trying between the commission, sheriff and prosecutor trying to come up with the perfect plan for the county,” said Ipock.
They said scaling back isn’t an option.
“Today we might not need the 150 but when this jail was built they might not have needed the eight either. You have to plan for the future,” Ipock said.
“We’re trying to look at alternative methods to bring in money. whether it be from open bed revenue, some type of federal grant, are there monies we can save that will allow us to get more with less,” Cole said.
Both Cole and Ipock said asking taxpayers for more money isn’t an option. They hope to have more answers to the jail issue in the near future.