Judge: Center may pay for itself

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 1999

Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson says if current estimates are correct, the new juvenile justice center could pay for itself.

&uot;In the long run, the local facility will be more economical to operate than transporting our juveniles out of the county,&uot; Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson said.

Building Adams County’s juvenile justice center is a job that has been in the works for 25 years. And ultimately the facility’s operational expenses may lead to tax increases.

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As the center begins to take shape at the corner of State and Pearl streets, county officials are figuring out how to fund its construction and its operational expenses.

County Administrator Charlie Brown is negotiating a bond sale for $3.9 million to cover the $2.7 million cost of constructing the juvenile justice center and $505,000 worth of renovations to the county courthouse.

Brown said he expects to get the $3.9 million at around 5.5 percent interest over 20 years. The notes on that amount of money would range around $321,931 per year for the county beginning in October 2000, assuming no extensions on payments are granted.

As far as the operational expenses go, Hudson said he thinks the facility will pay for itself by saving the county money necessary to transport juveniles to other facilities.

The cost to Adams County of transporting and housing juveniles outside of the county to comply with the federal law is substantial, Hudson said.

According to 1997 Youth Court records, Adams County spent $227,500 on housing Adams County juveniles in out-of-county facilities. Transportation of those juveniles back and forth for hearings in Adams County cost an additional $56,916 in transportation expense and an extra $99,980 personnel time to perform the transports to outlying facilities. The 1997 total for transporting 306 juveniles was $384,396.

Samuel L. &uot;Sammy&uot; Cauthen said despite the large expenses associated with the construction and operation of the center, he is hopeful that revenues generated by hosting other out-of-county juveniles in the facility will bring in supporting revenues.

&uot;A lot of juvenile facilities get $75 to $100 per night to house juveniles,&uot; Cauthen said. &uot;Hopefully, we can operate the facility without raising taxes.&uot;

Hudson’s calculations support that speculation.

LeFlore County spends $352,000 annually to support their 25-bed facility, Hudson said. Taking that as an estimate for the Adams County 25-bed facility in construction, Hudson then subtracts various expenses that the county will no longer pay as a result of the new facility.

According to his estimates, the various savings and revenue generation opportunities with the new juvenile justice facility adds up to $746,381. Subtracting the expense of construction and operation, the center would clear a profit of $72,450.