One Eastern Carolina county took a big step toward building a new jail.
By a four to three vote, Beaufort County commissioners this morning approved design contracts as well as hiring a construction management company for the jail project.
The county has been talking about building a new jail for quite some time, but that was accelerated last summer after the current jail in the courthouse basement was closed for about three months because of electrical problems. The county spent an estimated half million dollars for repairs and added costs to keep the prisoners somewhere else during the closing.
"No one has justified building a new jail and that's what's so odd and funny about this," said Commissioner Hood Richardson who voted against the contracts. "These guys have decided to we're going to build a new jail. They don't care if we need one or not. It's a great example of really bad government and people who are clueless about what they're doing."
Richardson says building a new jail will cause property taxes in the county to go up an estimated 15%.
The current jail only has a capacity for 85 prisoners, but population often exceeds that number. The new facility, which is being built south of Chocowinity, will house approximately 250 prisoners.
Those voting for the design contracts as well as hiring a construction management company for the jail project were commissioners Jerry Langley, Al Klemm, Robert Belcher and Ed Booth. Voting against were commisisoners Gary Brinn, Stan Deatherage and Hood Richardson.