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Commissioner: Here are four reasons to vote 'yes' on Oklahoma County jail bond issue

·2 min read
On June 28, voters will be asked to consider a $260 million bond issue for a new Oklahoma County jail.
On June 28, voters will be asked to consider a $260 million bond issue for a new Oklahoma County jail.

Oklahoma County’s three county commissioners have joined in a bipartisan effort to present a $260 million bond issue to the voters on June 28 to finally begin the work of replacing our aging and inadequate county jail.

There are four good reasons to vote yes on this proposal.

  1. First, the bonds will replace existing bonds that are being paid off, meaning no tax increases for county property owners. Your millage will remain the same.

  2. Second, a new county jail is essential to keep us safe. It’s vital for the safety of those incarcerated there and those who work there, but most of all for the safety of Oklahoma County’s residents. A burglar in jail can’t break into your car, home or business. A robber in jail won’t be mugging your grandmother. Jailed sex offenders pose no threat to your children or grandchildren.

  3. Third, every penny of the proposed $260 million will be spent with full disclosure. The resolution calling for a vote on June 28 also will establish a citizen advisory board to oversee how and where the funds are spent. This is in keeping with the philosophy behind the jail trust we established two years ago to oversee the operations and management of the jail.

  4. Finally, we must keep in mind that the federal Department of Justice has been monitoring the conditions at the jail for a decade or more. It is entirely possible that DOJ could descend on us tomorrow with a decree mandating an immediate tax increase and construction of a new jail on their terms, rather than ours.

County Commissioner Brian Maughan
County Commissioner Brian Maughan

The total cost of the new jail has been estimated at $300 million. The bonds on the June ballot will pay all but about $40 million of that total, which I am confident can be made up from other sources. We are still investigating the possible use of federal pandemic relief dollars, and we will be in discussions with other users of the jail like the municipalities in Oklahoma County. There may also be public safety grant funds available. Given public approval on June 28, I am certain we can backfill the remaining dollars.

There is no debate on the need for a new jail. Most local elected officials are in agreement, and we are unanimous in our support for this bond issue. Now it’s your turn. I ask you to join us in voting yes for a safer Oklahoma County.

Brian Maughan is the chair of the Board of County Commissioners.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Official: Reasons to vote yes on Oklahoma County jail bond issue