By Ethan Duran
Dane County’s executive and sheriff both urged the County Board to approve funding for a jail consolidation project before they miss the chance to bid for construction in the spring.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Sheriff Kalvin Barrett and County Board Supervisors announced on Monday the board should approve funding or put it on the ballot in the spring. Designs to consolidate Dane County Jail will be ready in the next few weeks but funding needs to be approved by the spring, otherwise risking delays under looming national inflation.
Officials could resolve to move $13 million in pre-authorized funds not used on other county capital projects to the jail project, officials said. Parisi said the resolution wouldn’t add on to the county’s overall budgeting.
Parisi offered two additional resolutions: One asking to let voters decide to approve an extra $13.5 million in borrowing in a binding referendum in April. The board would need to approve the referendum at its next meeting on Jan. 19 to include it on the ballot. The second resolution would reallocate prior borrowing and would need to be adopted before the project is put out to bid, officials added.
“The County Board needs to either pay for the project it asked be designed or allow the public a say in how to proceed on the jail,” Parisi said in a statement. “While not as high as a few months ago, national inflation remains and that means the longer this issue remains unresolved, costs will be higher and inmates are either stuck in 70-year-old jail space here or spending time in jails in other counties away from their homes and families.”
Parisi and Barrett called for a referendum in June of 2022 for the jail consolidation project in the following November. The county approved $165.9 million for reconstruction but estimates projected around $10 million more will be needed before bids.