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Cost of new jail to Shenandoah County residents? A 5-cent tax hike

Increase would generate $1.9M to pay for share of regional facility

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A 5-cent increase in the real estate tax rate may be needed to pay Shenandoah County's share of a new regional jail.

That's the amount necessary to generate about $1.9 million annually, which is what Shenandoah County will need to pay as its share, starting in fiscal 2019.

Ted Cole, from Davenport and Co. LLC, presented estimated cost figures to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Construction of the RSW Regional Jail, housing inmates from Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties, is expected to begin in July.

Inmates are expected to arrive two years later.

The regional jail authority has $6 million in interim financing from Wells Fargo.

Construction costs are estimated at $53.7 million, according to Cole's report, but with added costs related to connection fees, training, equipment, and a 60-day operating reserve, the regional jail's price goes up to about $71.9 million.

The state is expected to reimburse the localities for a little less than half of the construction costs, plus half of the land acquisition, water and sewer connections, architectural and engineering services, and some technology costs.

The counties are on their own when it comes to paying for about 55 percent of the total project costs, or around $39.2 million, according to Cole's report. Staff training is expected to cost $900,000, transition personnel $500,000, vehicles and a radio system $400,000 each, and IT equipment $185,000.

Each county will start paying a per diem fee in fiscal 2015, Cole said. Before then, the authority will have to make four debt service payments during construction. Cole said jurisdictions often capitalize the interest from their borrowing to make those payments.

The counties' costs will depend on their proportion of inmates at the jail. Warren County is expected to have 135 -- or 50 percent of the prisoners -- followed by Shenandoah County with 99 and Rappahannock County with 36.

With double bunking, around another 300 beds would be available for the authority to rent out.

"That's a very real possibility," Cole said.

Shenandoah County has budgeted $686,611 for local jail costs. That number would be expected to go up 3 percent each year due to inflation, the report says.

Starting in fiscal 2016, it's estimated Shenandoah County would have to pay about $2.4 million for the regional jail, going up to $2.6 million the next year, and about $2.8 million in fiscal 2020.

The latter figure is about $1.9 million above what it would be expected to pay toward costs of a local jail in fiscal 2020, and the report estimates that could be made up with a 5-cent real-estate tax hike. Each penny equates to about $375,000, Cole said.

Supervisors Chairman Conrad Helsley said construction bids are expected to go out Feb. 26.


If the Sheriffs office is unable to use
the $ collected from drug busts for it's
own expenditures ( money that was put
into the general fund ), why can't that
revenue be used to support the new jail ?

It seems to me that a lot of our tax $
goes toward "enhancement" projects in
Woodstock rather than for "needs" in
Shen. Co.
... Just sayin' ! ...

Aren't we still paying for the old jail? If I recall correctly, years ago that is why the county sticker was introduced....Although the sticker is not publicly displayed it is included is my personal property tax bill once a year. Humm. I also believe that cost was suppose to be temporary; just until we get the jail paid off? Have I got it wrong or is this more slight of the hand?

Forget it. Where do they think the money is coming from? First, Shen Co has property overvalued now, use the extra money from the overvaluation to pay for the jail. Second, the average family income in Shen Co. is $40,000. Where is the break line where the general population can not afford to live here? I propose, we are at the breaking point. CUT EXPENSES.


Shenandoah County recently "discovered" an $880,000 "surplus" and used it to give all county employees a nice Christmas bonus. Now we hear that they have so many known obligations that they may need to raise the property tax 5 cents per $100 property value, from 47 cents per $100 to 52 cents. Most likely this "announcement" is designed to calm us down when they raise the tax rate up by only 3 or 4 cents, and we thank them for the savings. Meanwhile, we never needed the regional jail. This white elephant project will be largely vacant when the federal government can no longer borrow money to fund the so-called War on Drugs. I agree with Cheryl -- government at all levels needs to cut costs in a big way, just as average people have had to do over the past 5 years.

A few years ago, Shenandoah County Sheriff Carter was arguing strongly that a regional jail was not needed nor in the interest of Shenandoah County residents, and he was in probably the best position to make this assessment.

One really wonders what drives these decisions - is it simply creating a construction contract for some crony?

Karen--clarification on your comment regarding all Shenandoah County employees were given a "nice" Christmas bonus from the surplus money. Shenandoah County Public School employees were given a bonus, but other county employees were simply REIMBURSED for the 6 days that they were required to take without pay the previous year--no bonus for those particular employees, just fairly compensated for the 6 days without pay.

I have an idea. Let the county purchase the property across from the Food Lion in Strasburg and build it there. We already have a lookout tower at the Ramada and that will cut some of the costs.

Well, since the elections are over now comes the broken promises. What do you expect, its all politically motivated anyways.

Well, our area does have too many criminals. Why not just send them all to Syria? Then honest, hard-working citizens would not have to foot the bill for their crimes. We need to stop molly-coddling the criminals in our midst.

Between the town and the County trying to out build each other. They are literally sucking the residents of this area dry. With Strasburg's water plant, and now an upgrade to the sewerage plant; not to mention the main street enhancement makes me wonder when all this will end. If they keep spending at this rate, and the county piling on with their 5-cent tax, this will be a very nice place to live, however, people like me won't be able to afford live here!

Getting 'reimbursed' for having a day off without pay.
That's called a Holiday!!! 6 EXTRA holidays!!

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