County to bond for jail upgrades

January 11, 2009
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County commissioners unanimously agreed last week to enter into a lease agreement with the Kent County Building Authority. The agreement makes it known that the county intends to go to the bond market to raise up to $38 million to replace two outdated portions of the Kent County jail and to reconstruct several sections of the juvenile detention center.

Roughly $35 million of the bond revenue will go toward building two new cell complexes at the jail and replace two existing pods that were built in 1958 and 1974. The old sections are outdated and contain 520 beds, with 500 of those beds housing medium- and maximum-security inmates. Right now, the projected cost for the work is $27 million.

Another $2.6 million of the bond revenue will be used to renovate the kitchen, dining and support areas at the juvenile detention center.

The term of the bond can’t be longer than 22 years and the interest rate can’t exceed 6.5 percent at selling. County Fiscal Services Director said the bonds will likely go to market in the fall after the construction bids are in.

“The market isn’t really there yet. We’re hoping the bond market will come back by the summer of 2009,” said White.

White also said he expects the county will have to pay about 6 percent in order to attract buyers, who lack trust in a shaky market and a worsening economy. The county’s bond rating is triple A.

County Facilities Management Director Robert Mihos said work on the jail is likely to begin next year and take a year to complete, while the construction project for the juvenile detention center should get underway this summer and be finished in 2010.

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