Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 9:53 am | Fair 57º


County Supervisors Discuss How to Fund Operating Costs for New Jail

Board is looking at three options for financing the $9 million needed to move forward

Santa Barbara County leaders were forced to do some soul-searching Tuesday about exactly how they’ll pay for a new North County Jail to stay operating once it’s built.

Though the majority of the funding — $89 million — has been provided by the state to build the facility, the county must come up with $9 million to move forward.

However, a larger question loomed Tuesday.

Sheriff Bill Brown estimates that $17 million will be needed to fully staff and operate the jail yearly. That includes the cost of staffing the jail with 57 custody deputies and 36 civilian support positions.

The jail could completed as early as May 2018.

The jail’s “honor farm,” an aging facility built in the 1960s, currently houses 285 inmates in a space meant for only 161, and houses higher security inmates than was ever intended. The honor farm may be refurbished and repurposed, but no funding has been identified for the project, according to county CEO Chandra Wallar.

The Board of Supervisors is looking at three options to finance the $9 million, with options involving various levels of debt. The supervisors may also vote to fund operating costs from already existing funds, but $17 million annually would “have a significant impact” on discretionary funds in the future, Wallar said.

The jail isn’t the only big expense looming.

Wallar reminded the supervisors Tuesday that the County Fire Department has also been committed money in the coming years, and that increasing retirement costs are also in the future.

A 7 percent decrease in funding for other operations raised concern with Supervisor Janet Wolf

“That’s really significant to me,” she said. “Especially considering all of the cuts we’ve made to date.”

Sheriff Brown spoke briefly Tuesday, saying the jail is having to process more inmates than ever because of realignment. He said the jail would be a major economic driver in the region, and would add about 400 construction jobs in the area.

Brown also called on the supervisors to look at options that have long been mostly anathema to South County supervisors — such as signing off on more oil production and building development — to generate revenue.

“It may require some of you to come out of your comfort zones,” he said.

Supervisor Peter Adam suggested that the supervisors conduct a workshop to look at the county’s budget holistically, also examining pensions in the mix.

The supervisors ultimately voted to come back in the fall for a workshop on the budget, and to meet before that to look at ways to generate revenue.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.