A 10 thousand square foot, $2.7 million addition to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center was discussed extensively at yesterday’s meeting of the Detention Center Commission, and the body voted to send the proposal to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Building & Grounds and Finance Committees.
The commission is comprised of two police jurors – President Jody Backus and Joe Henderson, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton, and Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers.
Money to finance the construction would have to borrowed, and Stone claimed that current revenues could pay off the note. However, as the Police Jury would actually own the building, the jury would be the entity that would have to vote to authorize the bonds, and would ultimately be responsible should the jail’s self-generated revenues not be sufficient to pay them off.
In other words, the jury would have to “co-sign” the note.
Stone said that currently, the jail spends about $400 thousand/year housing overflow prisoners in other parish jails, primarily Ouachita. That money would stay here if they had the room to house the prisoners, he said.
One problem for the plan would be a decline in sales tax revenue. Earlier this week, we reported that sales tax receipts are declining for the Lincoln parish School Board. Therefore, any Lincoln Parish entity that collects sales taxes – city, police jury, sheriff, jail – will have the same percentage revenue decline.
For the budget year 2016, sales taxes account for about 58% of the jail’s revenue.
Also, another 25% ($1 million annually) of the revenues are paid to the jail from the Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) to house state prisoners.
Stone said with the State of Louisiana “broke,” cuts to that revenue source are likely.
Said Stone, “The DOC has no money, folks. The state has no money. They’re going to start sentencing people to local time.” If that happens, the state won’t pay the approximately $25/day to house those prisoners in local jails, he said.
Warden Jim Tuten said one of the new additions would be used to house prisoners that are “trustees,” or those that can do work outside the jail with minimal supervision.
The other is for prisoners that have to be segregated from the general population, such as those with mental health issues.
It is unclear whether the proposal will be on next week’s agenda for the LPPJ.
Here is the budget for the proposed construction. Note that costs for furnishings and security systems are not included in the estimate.
In other business, the commission adopted an amended budget for the current calendar year.