VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) — In the November election, 60% of Clay County voters approved a $42 million bond measure for a new jail and law enforcement center.
Clay County resident Steven Waller said he was relieved when a majority of votes supported the new jail and law enforcement center.
“We’ve been working a long time on this,” he said. “Some of us have been working three, four years to see this process move forward and to finally have a supportive vote and see this move forward fills us with delight.”
The new jail will hold more than 40 beds and the new law enforcement center will contain the Vermillion Police Department, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, 911 communication call center and the Clay County Emergency Management office.
“In the long haul, it’s going to have a huge impact on Clay County,” Waller said. “It’s built for growth. It’s built to support the growth of the county and we’re very optimistic it will fulfil its mission.”
The county will negotiate with bond agencies and work with the city to find a site for the new jail. Clay County sheriff Andy Howe said while the project is expensive, Clay County was losing money due to its outdated facility.
“To avoid any issues with liabilities toward the inmates, we only house inmates here for up to 72 hours, either in the first days of their arrest or maybe short sentences,” he said. “Other than that, we house our inmates in other counties.”
Property taxes for Clay County residents are expected to increase by $165 per every $100,000 of assessed property value each year. Howe said the new facility comes with a steep price, but it will be worth it over time.
“It will be expensive. The taxpayers will feel it. But in the end, after the bond is paid, it will be paid off,” he said. “It won’t be a continuing cost that we would have if we continue to board indefinitely.”
Howe said Clay County pays $80 per day per inmate. He estimated Clay County will pay roughly $500,000 in 2023 to house inmates in other counties.