The five-year-long project to build a regional jail that Rappahannock County would share with Warren and Shenandoah counties, all but killed by General Assembly budget cuts last month, got a boost last week from Gov. Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell’s amendments to the proposed budget — amendments state legislators were scheduled to vote on this week — recommends issuance of $32.8 million in bonds, pushing up the possible funding release date to July of 2012. The Assembly had pushed the date back to 2014, and also added a condition that state inmates be housed for free — a condition McDonnell’s amendment removes.
No other jail authority in the state had ever been required to accept such a condition, officials said, and, taken with the funding delay, local support for the project had begun to wane. The governor’s action came after hard lobbying by Front Royal Republican Del. Clifford A. “Clay” Athey Jr.
The state’s share is half of the projected $65.6 million cost; the remaining cost is split among the three counties, two of which would provide the bulk of prisoners and thus pay the largest share of costs, which the Regional Jail Authority will use to repay the bonds.
Rappahannock’s share is 6 percent.
“We’re happy the governor elected to put this project back on track, and in line with other similar projects,” said County Administrator John W. McCarthy on Monday.
McCarthy, together with the supervisors who voted to join the jail authority last November, believe the regional jail overall will save the county money it would otherwise need to spend on much-needed renovations to the old county jail, and on correctional officers’ salaries.
McCarthy said tha he has heard some estimates as early as 2012 for completion of the regional jail — the proposed site is just north of Front Royal — but that 2013 is a more likely opening date.