County leaders are watching COVID-19 status and MAPS4 funds for new prison

We’ve got a better idea of ​​how county leaders are hoping to fund the construction of a new Oklahoma County jail.

Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brian Maughan said they hoped to tap into city, county and state funds to help pay for the estimated $ 300 million project.

“If we can get enough coalition partners, hopefully we can fund it without having to ask taxpayers for a tax hike,” Maughan said.

Maughan drafted an agenda item for a meeting next Monday asking the state for $ 75 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. This would be in addition to the $ 152 million already paid to the county directly by the federal government. Maughan said that in light of new Treasury guidelines released on Thursday, that vote will likely be postponed.

“(Lawmakers) are in the service of the state constituency. We’re the biggest in the state and I think that’s the main argument for that because, if you look at where you can just make the biggest impact for the money, Oklahoma County certainly has it. the largest population, ”said Maughan.

Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey said he supported lawmakers’ demand for a portion of the state’s $ 1.87 billion US bailout funds.

Commissioner Carrie Blumert, however, was less supportive of the state’s request. “Our board and our committees have never discussed this and I am not ready to make a decision based on the limited information I have,” she said.

Maughan said things like HVAC and plumbing systems could likely be paid for using state and county ARPA funds.

“You can’t just say ‘we’re going to build a new prison with these ARPA funds’, but there are things that are related to COVID that hopefully can be used to use these ARPA funds,” he said. he declares.

Maughan also mentioned that he contacted the city for part of its $ 40 million in MAPS4 funds for mental health and addiction programs.

“We’re also engaging with grants and also with Oklahoma City, with the MAPS4 who voted for a mental health facility,” Maughan said. “We are appealing, or we will appeal, to city council to see if they can partner with us.”

According to the city of Oklahoma City’s MAPS4 website, the package approved by voters in 2019 included $ 11 million to build two new mental health crisis centers, $ 22 million for a food court that includes a center crisis, methamphetamine detox, addiction services and more, and $ 7 million for temporary housing for people with mental illness and homelessness.

“We are de facto the largest mental health facility in the state, not because we choose to be, but because there really has been no other place where the forces of the order could bring those who have committed a crime who clearly suffer from mental illness, “Maughan said.

Maughan and Calvey also plan to ask voters to extend a general obligation that will expire in 2023 and 2024. Maughan said a proposed obligation could be sent to voters as early as this spring.

“If we can combine all of these, hopefully we can put together a package that actually doesn’t result in any tax increase for the taxpayer and build a new prison,” Maughan said.

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