Two recent reports detailing the Dane County budget may determine whether officials have the financial ability to redesign or rebuild the county jail.
The current Dane County jail is divided between three separate facilities, District 12 Supervisor Paul Rusk said. The new jail design aims to provide one building for all the county’s inmates and includes facilities for job training and mental health support for inmates, he said. The new design would also provide a higher security and efficiency standard in newer facilities, he said.
“[The] reports …will help to decide whether it is fiscally prudent to move the current jail,” Rusk said.
The Dane County Board of Supervisors is primarily considering location and cost in its discussion of restructuring the jail, Rusk said. Rusk said if the new facility were to be constructed outside the downtown area, it could be constructed on one level, helping to cut costs. If the building were located in the downtown area, it could be closer to the court building, he added.
However, Rusk said the price tag of the potential project is main focus right now.
According to reporting from The Wisconsin State Journal, constructing a new jail or revising the buildings currently in use would cost upwards of $85 million, which would be a major hit to the taxpayer.
“[There is a] need to replace [that] space,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said of the nearly 60-year-old current facilities. “There is a need for better mental health facilities … [but] it’s down to cost.”
Rusk said the planning process will “move slowly,” as all proposed contracts exceeding $2,500 must pass through the county board.
Parisi said the county will need substantial savings to move forward with a process. Supervisors are currently waiting for consultants to review the reports and determine whether it is cost efficient to proceed with the project, Parisi said.
“The capital budget might bring in money to move forward with engineering and site selection if we decide [to continue with the project],” Rusk said.
Designs for a new building won’t be released until December, though the county board is looking into other issues, Rusk said.
Elizabeth Koskiewicz contributed to this story.