Public hearing scheduled on proposed new jail site

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the jail project on Tuesday, June 20.

According to a release, the commissioners want to hear more from community members on the proposed site for the new County Jail.

A formal public hearing would allow for more dialogue between citizens and board members.

“We understand there will be concerns surrounding the selection of a proposed jail site.  No matter where it’s located, someone is likely to be upset. I hope this Hearing will help clear up any misunderstandings and correct misinformation,” said Commissioner John Carlson.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections issued a Notice of Deficiency to the county in 2019, with the then-board issuing a resolution to address the deficiencies with a long-term solution.

The Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study was completed in February 2022 after pandemic-related delays, with the board approving the design and construction of a new facility last November.

The release says the County’s jail project design and operations subcommittee developed a rating and ranking system for proposed sites, applying this system to more than 15 identified properties.

Staff negotiated on the top five properties for over two months with the board selecting the property on Jefferson Avenue on May 31.

“The upcoming Public Hearing will give our community and our staff an opportunity to engage each other in dialogue that will help citizens understand why a new jail is needed, how we selected the proposed location, and answer any questions and address any concerns they have about the project,” said Sheriff Jason Riggs.

The estimated $80 million project will build a new 242-bed facility, with the county expected to ask voters this November to approve a 5/8 of a percent sales tax to fund construction bonds over 30 years.

All members of the community are encouraged to attend the public hearing.

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