Williams County jail being paid off 18 years early; tax raised enough money in 5 years



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WILLISTON, North Dakota — Williams County is paying off its six-year-old jail 18 years ahead of schedule, while officials talk about possibly doubling the size of the facility.

The county sold $14.5 million in bonds for the jail that was built in 2008, with a payoff date in 2032. The half-percent sales tax enacted to fund the facility raised the entire amount in five years, and the county plans to pay off the bond on Nov. 1, KXMC-TV reported (http://bit.ly/11nKanY ).

Commissioner Dan Kalil said the county could have continued the special tax, but that it notified the state earlier this month that it would not do so.

"We told the public it was for the jail and when we had the money it would end," he said. "It's done."

While the jail will be paid off, it might already be outdated. The population growth in the area that has boosted sales tax collections also has led to a growing inmate population.

The jail was supposed to handle inmate growth for 50 years, but the 131-bed facility, which takes in inmates from throughout the region, filled up shortly after it opened. Kalil said there is a need for 200 spaces for inmates.

"At some point, we in the county will be making a decision to expand this jail," he said. "The infrastructure is already in place — all the infrastructure for this building was double-sized in anticipation that 50 years from now we'd need a new jail, and here we are."

County and Williston residents will vote Nov. 4 on a proposed 1 percent sales tax to help fund public safety operations in the rapidly growing area. Some of that money could go toward a jail expansion, Kalil said.


Information from: KXMC-TV, http://www.kxnet.com

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