Letter: Opponents take jail fight to Richmond

On April 30 two other Shenandoah County opponents of the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) regional jail project and I met with Gov. Bob McDonnell’s director of policy development and deputy counselor, Jeff Palmore, regarding budgetary concerns and the RSW project. A 30-minute meeting extended to 90 minutes as we painted a bleak picture for Shenandoah County’s economy.

Numerous discrepancies plague the regional jail project. A packet the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors recently shared with taxpayers only gave the 2007-2009 cost for the regional jail, with Shenandoah County’s share at $13.8 million. Our supervisors neglected to share new costs provided by Davenport Associates, the financial advisor for the jail authority, from 2011 and early 2012, showing Shenandoah County’s share increasing to more than $20 million.

Do Rappahannock taxpayers know their true financial obligation? Shenandoah County’s progressive board has skewed numbers regarding this project, not only with taxpayers, but with Del. Todd Gilbert, Sen. Mark Obenshain and Gov. McDonnell. The regional jail cost is more than $71.7 million; the yearly operating costs to Shenandoah County is $3.6 million.

Shenandoah County supervisors recently passed a resolution to borrow $89 million to finance construction of the regional jail, with flexibility to go to $100 million. The resolution clause in the RSW Regional Jail Authority Agreement states, “In the event the Commonwealth does not agree to fund 50 percent of the anticipated eligible construction costs, the authority shall not proceed to construct the Regional Jail unless approval is received from the governing bodies of each of the Member Jurisdictions.”

This resolution was suggested by Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter and demanded by taxpayers to protect the amount of our obligation, because no local cap has been placed on this project. The state cap is $32.8 million; well below the 50 percent we were promised. Davenport has already reported state funding will be below 45 percent. Additional unknown costs include architectural fees, water, sewer and travel.

The Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives (SVCC) have asked me to give a complete report on my trip to Richmond and the RSW jail project at  their next meeting, this Saturday [May 12] at 9:45 at the Denny’s in Mt. Jackson. They have extended an invitation to any concerned citizens from Rappahannock County.

Cindy Bailey

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