Northern Santa Barbara County came $20 million closer to a new jail after the Board of State and Community Corrections awarded the funds, the maximum possible under the guidelines for medium-sized counties.
The July 26 award by the board, formerly the state Corrections Standards Authority, brings the total to $80 million awarded for the jail project under Phase II of the Assembly Bill 900 Jail Construction Financing Program.
The county received $60 million as part of the same program in March.
“This was integral,” Sheriff Bill Brown said July 26 of the $20 million allocation. “Had we not got this we would not have been able to move forward with the expanded size facility we need as a result of AB 109.”
The $80 million replaces a $56 million award that the county received in 2008 under Phase I of the jail construction financing program.
The latest award was granted under Phase II of the program, which was announced Oct. 7, 2011, days after the beginning of the state-mandated prisoner-realignment program that has the county assuming responsibility for hundreds of inmates a year that would normally have been sent to state prisons.
“We had no idea we’d have as many additional people, state prisoners, that we’d be responsible for. It was a key thing that we took a gamble and relinquished our ($56 million) grant. But we figured we had a good chance of getting the additional funding,” Brown said.
The jail is estimated to cost $95.1 million to build, and the county would be responsible for $11 million in matching funds. Of that, the $5.7 million cost of the land has already been met.
Operational costs for such a facility are estimated to be $17.5 million annually starting in fiscal year 2017-18, including 53 additional custody deputies and 28 support positions such as records, accounting, food services and maintenance.
Beginning in fiscal year 2011-12, the Board of Supervisors put aside a portion of General Fund revenue growth annually for 12 years to pay for the jail’s operational costs. Starting with $1 million, it will increase incrementally.
With the July 26 award, the jail will have 376 beds instead of 304, including 16 medical and 16 mental health beds.
The new 138,385-square-foot jail would be built on the southwest corner of Black and Betteravia roads and would be designed for future growth. It would have housing units that could be used for either direct or indirect supervision of the incarcerated inmates.
The next step in the process is for the state Debt Advisory Committee to recommend the makeup of the matching funds put up by the county, which could be certificates of participation, General Fund reserves, a combination, or another source, Brown said.
The jail proposal then goes to the county Board of Supervisors for consideration, likely sometime in September, Brown said.
“Hopefully, we’ll move forward from there and make it a reality,” he said of the long-awaited North County jail.