Fiscal Court Looks into the Costs of Building a Jail

County Jailer Joani Clark and Rodney Ballard

County Jailer Joani Clark and Rodney Ballard

The Anderson County Fiscal Court decided last week to look into the feasibility of possibly constructing a jail in the county instead of contracting to use Shelby County’s jail.  County Jailer Joani Clark invited Rodney Ballard, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, to talk to the court about building a jail.

The court has been looking to find new ways to save money after having an increase of inmates being housed at the Shelby County Detention Center.  At $29 a day per inmate, the costs have been soaring for the county’s budget.

Rodney Ballard, who also used to be the jailer in Fayette County, explained to the court what would need to be done if they wanted to pursue building their own jail.  A feasibility study would need to be done first which would look at various factors, including population growth, surrounding counties, school system, and even the average age of police officers.

If the report comes back positive, he then suggested to run a budget just to see what the costs may end up being.  Rodney calculated roughly that for a jail to be built in Anderson County, it would cost around $4million.  It would then cost another $3.9 to $4.1million in yearly costs.

Rodney further explained some of the more hidden costs, like if sewer and water concerns, size and location of the property, and strict construction and maintenance regulations.  “Taking on a jail is a big decision for a community,” he said.

He then compared the costs that the county is now paying to Shelby County with other inmate costs at other jails.  In Fayette County, it costs $72 a day per inmate and at Blackburn, it costs $48 a day per inmate.  At $29.38 a day per inmate that Anderson County is paying, he said that the county is getting a bargain price.

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