Winnebago County Jail Referendum

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Winnebago County officials are hoping to gain more support for a jail referendum with a modified plan unveiled officially Friday.

County officials say the revised plan will still meet public safety needs, but reduce initial construction costs.

For years Winnebago County officials have been saying they need a new and bigger jail. But many residents have balked at the idea of building a twelve hundred bed, one point three million dollar facility, so Friday, a revised plan was presented to the public.

At a county Public Safety Committee meeting, county attorney Paul Logli outlined the revised jail plan. A 1,200 bed facility will still be constructed but only 975 of the beds will be completed. And there will be only two courtrooms instead of four.

"It's a prudent plan. It’s less upfront cost. More money for the programs that can turn people around and stop the revolving door and sufficient money to get cases through the system better and faster,” says Logli.

The Winnebago County Sheriff says the plan will still meet the county's needs in the future, but phasing it in, makes more sense.

"The original assessments are still there. There's no change in that. We simply repackaged how you get it because citizens seem to favor this approach,” says Sheriff Meyers.

While the county hopes to shave $20 million off the cost of the jail, county officials will still ask voters to approve a one cent sales tax hike in November.

"Nobody wants to pay an additional tax but the fact of the matter is the crime problem is significant in this county. That people are going to be released on the street that shouldn't. We don't want to do that but we just don't have the space,” says Logli.

In the coming months, the county will be working with a marketing group to sell the plan to the public.


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