POMEROY — Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood made a formal request to the Meigs County Commissioners on Thursday for a tax levy to be placed on the ballot in May with the funds to be used for the construction of a correctional facility.
Wood presented the commissioners with a letter to request the placement of a 2.95 mill levy on the May 2 primary election ballot.
The funds from the levy would be used for demolition, new construction, furnishings and operations of the proposed Meigs County Sheriff’s Administrative Office and Correctional Facility.
The proposed 62-bed facility would be located at the site of the former Veterans Memorial Hospital. According to discussions on Thursday, the former hospital would be torn down to make space for the facility to be constructed.
“A little over four years ago, when I was bestowed the honor and privilege of protecting and serving the citizens of Meigs County, I came into the office with several goals to make our county safer through the efforts to offer more training, equipment, school resource officers, a canine unit and expansion of our housing facility,” stated Wood in the letter.
Since taking office in January 2013, many of those goals have come to fruition, including the addition of school resource officers and a canine unit.
“The construction of a larger facility will mean our deputies will no longer be out of the county transporting inmates to distant incarceration facilities, leaving us short staffed, and our budget strained and stretched to the point of breaking,” stated Wood in the letter.
In 2016 alone, deputies traveled more than 20,000 miles to transport inmates to outside facilities.
The current jail facility in the sheriff’s office 121 year old building holds five inmates. The remainder of those being held by the county must be transported to one of the 10 facilities across the state where Meigs County houses prisoners.
There is the time and distance involved in the transports which takes deputies out of the county, but there is also the financial impact of outside housing.
More than $300,000 was spent in 2016 for the costs of food, medical needs and housing of prisoners at the outside facilities. Outside housing, depending on the facility, costs $60-75 per day for each inmate housed.
“This money could stay local and create jobs here in our community, leading to more money put back into the community thereby helping to sustain our local businesses,” stated Wood.
In addition, the larger facility would allow for the county to contract with outside agencies to house prisoners in the Meigs County facility. This could generate revenue for the county.
A special meeting of the commissioners has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 for consideration of a resolution to place the levy on the May ballot. The special meeting is necessary to comply with filing deadlines for the May election.