By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – With the population continuing to rise at the Bell County Jail, county officials are looking forward to the new jail facility opening.
The Bell County Commissioners Court approved a contract proposal by Phase 2 Consulting to assist in planning for health care services for expanded jail population and changed circumstances upon completion of the jail addition.
Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said after the meeting Monday that the new jail is expected to be completed in one year, but in the meantime, the county needs to prepare for the services that will need to be offered at the new location.
Burrows said the new jail will be able to provide for the needs of inmates in a facility that is stretched to its limits at the current time, and is having difficulty providing for some of the basic needs of the inmates, things that will be taken care of by the new facility.
Commissioner John Fisher said the new facility is not a replacement, only a supplement.
"It's actually to review for the entire jail population. The agreement is going to look at all the health care issues for the new facility and the old facility," Fisher said. "So when we do move to the new facility, we will be able to manage that entire population.
Fisher said the new facility is only going to add 300 beds.
"There is nothing wrong with the existing jail. We're going to continue to operate both, and we'll have 648 total," Fisher said. "The infrastructure has the infrastructure to hold about 1,200 beds. This new facility will allow us to plan for the future and not break the bank."
The new jail is being constructed behind the Bell County Justice Complex in Belton. Construction began in spring of this year and is expected to last 18 months and cost about $42 million at 3.5 cents per $100 on the property tax rate valuation. Limited tax notes are being used to fund the project.
In other county action, Sharon Long, Bell County tax assessor/collector, reported that this year's fee allocations for Bell County cities will again increase this year as the amount of cars continue to increase.
The allocations are based on the amount of cars registered in the county and the population of each city in the 2000 census. The renewal fees are set at $1.50 per vehicle. Killeen leads all Bell County cities with 117,440.
Contact Justin Cox at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7568