County to consider millage for new jail

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 18, 2019

 County officials are expected to approach the Macomb County Board of Commissioners June 19 to request a millage proposal for a new jail in Mount Clemens. Under the proposed project, the current jail on Elizabeth Road would be razed.

County officials are expected to approach the Macomb County Board of Commissioners June 19 to request a millage proposal for a new jail in Mount Clemens. Under the proposed project, the current jail on Elizabeth Road would be razed.

File photo by Julie Snyder

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Macomb County officials said they will be presenting the Board of Commissioners with a millage proposal for a new $375 million jail June 19.

According to the office of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, officials are expected to ask the board to approve the project, contingent on funding approval.

The funding mechanism recommended will be a 21-year 0.98 mill county tax: 0.78 mill would fund the $375 million proposed new jail, and 0.2 mill would support the operation and personnel costs associated with it.

For a home worth $150,000, 0.98 mill would cost $73.50 per year for just over two decades.

If the millage is placed on the ballot and voters approve it, the funds would be used to repay a bond issued by Macomb County to pay for the proposed new jail project.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said the Board of Commissioners was approached for funding in 2005.

“They agreed that it was needed, but it never moved forward because of the funding issues,” he said. “They agreed the county needed to do something (about the aging jail), but they couldn’t seek the funding.”

The Macomb County Jail, on Elizabeth Road in Mount Clemens, currently has a capacity of 1,238 beds. The jail houses pretrial detainees, as well as prisoners sentenced to one year or less. Many of the programs at the jail assist in providing counseling services and life skills aimed at reducing recidivism.

The jail was built in 1954 with a capacity of little more than 100 inmates. Due to the increasing population in Macomb County, the average enrollment per day in the 1960s increased to 150. New additions were added in the 1970s, including construction of the $3.5 million Rehabilitation Center. According to sheriff’s records, the 40,000-square-foot jail addition was built to house 104 minimum security inmates in single-person cells and helped increase its total capacity to 354 inmates.

The Board of Commissioners then approved a $27 addition in the early 1980s, which added five floors to the jail and 480 inmates cells.

The state then advanced money to add two floors in exchange for housing state prisoners for a specific period of time, saving Macomb County taxpayers approximately $9.5 million.

The 200-bed work release addition was later constructed in the parking area of the jail, but was closed in 2009 due to budget cuts. The jail’s current capacity is 1,218.

In recent years, the jail has experienced overcrowding, which meant the release of some nonviolent offenders. Wickersham said that recently, the population has remained steady and manageable.

As part of the new jail proposal, if the facility housed 1,250 inmates, 86 additional personnel would be requested, including corrections deputies and pretrial specialists. If the facility housed 1,518 inmates, 108 additional personnel would be requested, including corrections deputies and pretrial specialists.

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners will meet at 1 p.m. June 19 on the ninth floor of the Macomb County Administration Building, 1 S. Main St. in Mount Clemens. No final decisions or recommendations will be made by the board at the meeting.

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