County asking for public input on jail expansion

Ector County officials will discuss a proposed expansion of the Ector County Law Enforcement Center during a special meeting tomorrow. The meeting and workshop will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Courtroom, 1010 E. Eighth St.
Ector County Judge Ron Eckert said Monday no action will be taken during the meeting, as it is intended to be informational as well as allow the county to get feedback from the community about the project.
The Ector County Sheriff’s Office continues to transport inmates to other county jails across the state as they face overcrowding issues and try to remain compliant with jail standards. There are currently about 200 inmates in other jails, which charge the county anywhere from $30-50 per day for each inmate, according to Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis.
Griffis said the county currently spends more than $2 million per year to house inmates in other county jails, not including the cost of transportation. Deputies were estimated to have traveled more than 130,000 miles transporting inmates last year.
Tuesday night’s agenda shows various issues related to the jail and the expansion project will be discussed, as well as architectural plans, engineering studies and other studies associated with the proposed expansion. The projected costs and consequences of the expansion, as well as how the county would pay for it is also expected to be discussed.
Eckert said he is hoping a summary of cost estimates for each expansion option will be available.
The county judge said he is also hoping the county auditor will be available to discuss how the project could affect Ector County residents, including potential tax rates. The agenda shows discussion regarding the financing of the proposed expansion includes the issuance of public debt in the form of Certificates of Obligation.
At the end of the meeting, the public will be asked to give feedback regarding all issues regarding the current jail situation, the proposed expansion, the issuance of public debt to finance and pay for the expansion and the effects the expansion could have on tax rates and taxes paid by Ector County residents.