The public portion of the September 28 Kane County Commission meeting concerning various financing contingencies for the construction of a new 200-bed Public Safety Facility near Kaneplex was well attended. Commission Chair Daniel Hulet, and Commissioners Mark Habbeshaw and Doug Heaton were all present. 

Chief Deputy Tracy Glover presented an historical overview of Kane County’s current Public Safety Facility challenges, and how the commission and public safety ad hoc committee had arrived at the proposed 200-bed facility.

“We’re over-crowded,” said Glover, adding that when the current facility opened in 1983, it opened to house nine males and two females. Incarceration numbers have risen substantially in recent years, and some changes made address the over-crowding issues, but that they still are inadequate. He said the county had received poor jail inspections due to the problem. Glover said local law enforcement get frustrated when they cannot always incarcerate people they have arrested. He also cited mentally ill inmates cannot be separated from the general population. 

The new facility, which will have a full kitchen and laundry, will employ 25. They project housing 170 state inmates, receiving monies for their incarceration.

State representative Mike Noel, credited with securing more state inmates and money for Kane County, said contracting state inmates was a win/win deal for the county and the state to partner together in paying for incarceration. “This is a good way to upgrade your jail,” said Noel. 

“We have half of the financing at 2-1/2%,” said Habbeshaw. He indicated the other was 5 to 5-1/4% interest through the USDA. “If we don’t get the USDA, we have to go after conventional financing.”

The commission stressed that this hearing was concerning a contingency resolution and its parameters. 

Public comments: Ken Hardison said that he was concerned with additional loan security – mineral leases and sales taxes. “Doesn’t that have an impact on local taxpayers?”

“This is only an emergency contingency, in case the USDA doesn’t come through,” replied Habbeshaw.

Caralee Woods questioned how many inmates it would take to finance the project’s operation.

“One hundred forty state inmates,” responded Chief Deputy Glover, “at the current rates.”

Considering transportation from the facility’s location to the court and the costs invloved, Glover responded that there could be some video arraignments to cut down on expenses. Representative Noel stated state inmates are covered on court time and travel.

Commissioner Heaton said he thinks the time to act is now on the public safety facility. “The ugly, is the unfounded things the Taxpayers Association wrote, which created panic.” 

Glover briefly addressed social impacts on the county. He said that occasionally prisoners do have relatives who move nearby and create other potential problems. He stressed that the Kane County Sherriff’s Office will have latitude with the Department of Corrections (DOC) on who they get and their termination at the facility for any needed reason. Glover stressed that they were sensitive to a small county’s needs.