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Coryell County voters uneasy about proposed $30.9 million bond for new jail

Posted at 11:24 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 23:49:57-04

CORYELL COUNTY, TX — Coryell County voters must decide whether to approve a $30.9 million bond for the construction of a new jail.

“When you get a division on the court and there’s not a consensus, then it’s always the responsible thing to do to get voter input,” said Coryell County Judge Roger Miller.

Judge Miller says the current jail is overcrowded. The proposed new facility would have around 250 beds. Some say that’s more than what the county needs.

“They need to come up with a lot more logic to me and a lot of us. Why do we need a 250-bed facility when everyone around already has one? And they’re making money. How are we gonna fill ours up?” said Mike Riddle, a Coryell County resident.

Judge Miller says the county hasn’t experienced a problem until this month. He says they’ve housed inmates outside the county for the past 15 years, something that's now costing more than $1 million a year.

“We can house inmates out of county for less money that we can house them in county. There's still a surplus of about 1,000 beds just right here in Central Texas area,” Judge Miller said.

If approved, Judge Miller says taxpayers would see a 0.067 cent increase in the tax rate. The county would also hire more than 20 additional employees to run the facility.

"We've already seen our rates go up in the housing market. It has been really hard to find housing as it is. You can’t find houses right now,” said Gabrielle Locken, another Coryell County resident.

Locals say 10 years ago, Coryell County voters approved an $18 million bond for a 240-bed facility. but the county didn’t make it happen. Now, many fear the same thing will happen again.

“It just seems like an egregious of waste to me. We can use different monies for infrastructure, for families, for parks, for better schools, those sorts of things that actually benefit the people that are living in the community rather than benefiting the inmates,” said Locken.

People also say there are too many unanswered questions, such as what happens to the current jail.

Judge Miller says the court hasn’t discussed those plans, but there’s talk about using it as a storage facility.

25 News reached out to the Coryell County Sheriff's Department about plans for the new jail, but as of publication time, we have not heard back.

Judge Miller say they’re working on plans in case voters vote against the new facility.