Legislature OKs bill that could help supervisors lease new jail facility

Published 10:50 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Both houses of the state Legislature have approved extending the amount of time counties can enter into lease agreements, giving Adams County supervisors an option should they choose to enter into a lease agreement for the construction of a new jail.

House Bill 4090 will now be sent to the governor for his signature.

County Attorney Scott Slover said the Adams County Board of Supervisors requested the action from the Legislature, in part as a response to a proposal that would involve the county leasing a new jail facility. He said at present, counties can enter into 20-year agreements. The supervisors requested to extend that time to 30 years.

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Should the county choose to lease a jail, rather than build it, the extra 10 years would ease the payment burden by extending the period for payments.

“Leasing a facility may be a way to pay for a new law enforcement complex and jail,” said Debbie Germany, who is heading a committee to explore options for a jail. “Whether the county goes that direction or not, it gives them an option.”

Board of Supervisors President Kevin Wilson, who represents District 2, said the county is far from a decision on whether it will build a jail.

“We are a long way off from that,” he said. “We have no idea where funding for a new jail would come from. There is some funding out there, but we don’t have it now. Debbie Germany is working on the jail project.”

He also said testing such as soil samples, a survey, and other environmental testing needs to be completed on land offered to the county as a donation as a site for a new jail to determine if the site is an appropriate place for a jail.

“We are so far away from a new jail. I like to put stuff like that to a vote. Like the trash contract, I think citizens should have voted on that,” Wilson said.

Germany said she and four others — Natchez Police Chief Cal Green, District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins, Sheriff Travis Patten, and David Marsh of Benchmark Engineering — toured the relatively new jail facility in Simpson County last week.

She said another jail tour is set for May 7 to tour a newer jail facility built two years ago in Copiah County.