BOONE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
116 West Washington Street
Lebanon, IN 46052
Phone: (765) 483-4492 | Fax: (765) 483-4494
District 1: Tom Santelli | District 2: Donald Lawson | District 3: Jeff Wolfe
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Noah Alatza, Coverdale Consulting
Justice center public hearing scheduled May 10 amid ongoing delays to project
LEBANON, Ind. (May 6, 2022) — The Boone County Commissioners are growing more concerned about ongoing delays to an expanded justice center. The delays continue to cost the county $125,000 a week, according to inflation estimates from industry experts. Just this week, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates half a percentage point.
The proposed expanded justice center would currently cost approximately $58 million, paid for by increasing the local income tax rate by as much as 0.2 percentage points.
A public hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10, before the County Council regarding the Jail LIT tax.
The Sheriff’s Office and Jail originally opened in 1992 with 110 beds serving a county at the time of roughly 35,000 residents. As Boone County has continued to grow, the incarceration rate has increased to a point where in 2007, the jail had to double the amount of bunks in cells to accommodate the 214 inmates. The Boone County Jail has seen as many as 246 inmates in the facility.
Aside from adding more capacity, the Commissioners have been working extensively with Sheriff Mike Nielsen to provide additional mental health and addiction services for the county, keeping potential offenders out of jail. The expanded Justice Center includes additional room for new work release programs and an upgraded infirmary. It also adds space for the county’s successful and proven mental health and addiction programs, as well as a morgue to be utilized by the Coroner’s Office.
Boone County Commissioners board president Jeff Wolfe said it is long past time to move forward with the project.
“This is one of the most cost effective projects we could do, and we need to move forward before interest rates keep rising,” Wolfe said. “If we wait any longer, taxpayers will continue to be impacted. I’m hopeful this project will be expedited to ensure overall public safety across Boone County.”
Sheriff Nielsen has expressed his faith in the project. He said this initial expansion would include an additional 102 beds and future expansion could total an additional 48 beds, amounting to 150 beds. The sheriff said the focus is on rehabilitation not incarceration. A total of 82 beds would be incorporated during the initial expansion.
“The commissioners’ proposal really addresses those suffering from mental health issues and addiction needs in Boone County,” Sheriff Nielsen said. “We currently do not have the space or facilities we need to make sure all of our inmates are taken care of. I’m hopeful we can move forward on this expansion in the near future.”
For more information on the justice center visit https://www.livinginboonecounty.com/