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Counties look at jail study funding

SCHUYLER COUNTY--During a 15-minute legislative meeting Monday, June 8, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn said they are currently in discussion with Yates County regarding a study for a shared jail. The Yates and Schuyler Shared Services Committee met May 28 to discuss the possibility of finding grant funding to conduct a feasibility study to look into building a shared jail facility. O'Hearn said while the shared services committee was interested in looking at the study, Yates wanted to learn more about the grant funding and consolidated funding application (CFA) process before going further.
Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said in a memo to the Yates public safety committee, the jail feasibility study would take $100,000 to conduct it "in the most appropriate and thorough manner." O'Hearn added acquiring the grant funding for the study would be the biggest factor in deciding whether to conduct it.
"Schuyler is interested, but is not willing to commit local funds to it," O'Hearn said. "We would need grant funding. I would expect that would be the same position in Yates."
The Yates County Legislature heard a presentation on the consolidated funding application (CFA) process during their Monday meeting. Purdy noted if the counties were to apply for a grant, it would have to be a local government efficiencies grant. This type of grant paid for most of the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) study, which looked at the feasibility of sharing or consolidating county services. However, Purdy added the local government efficiencies program was folded into the CFA process that is overseen by the regional economic development councils.
It was the CGR study that compared the two jails earlier in the year, stating operating the jails is the single largest expense of the two sheriff's offices. Operational costs in the jail amount to $1.3 million in Schuyler and $2.8 million in Yates, according to the study. The potential costs, based on a Kimball's Associates report in 2007 amount to $27 million for the construction of a new 136 bed jail without land acquisition. The report states after the initial capital expense, the savings would come in staffing and operational costs over the long term.

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