Jail plan stalls as Young balks at approval

By Traci Chapman
Published on February 7, 2007

Momentum toward a May vote on a new county jail stalled Monday when Canadian County commissioners declined to hire a financial adviser, the next step in moving the project forward.

District 3 Commissioner Grant Hedrick made a motion to hire Edmond-based Municipal Finance Services. The firm specializes in jail and other municipal projects and was the “overwhelming recommendation” of project architect Bill Knowles.

District 2 Commissioner Don Young refused to sign off on hiring Municipal Finance, saying he wanted to look at other firms, and he felt the issue was being rushed toward a May election.

“The sheriff knew a year ago he wanted a new jail — why didn’t he come to us then,” he said. “We’re not ready to do this. We sat on this for two years and all of a sudden, we’re in a hurry. I don’t like being pushed into just hiring them (Municipal Finance).”

Although District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson said the firm met all of the requirements he believed were needed with the project, he declined to second the motion, saying, “I think it’s really important we’re all three on the same track.”

If commissioners can agree on a plan, voters will be asked to approve a sales tax increase to fund the new jail. The amount of the increase remains unknown, pending a determination of the facility and financing costs. Those numbers cannot be established until a financial adviser is hired, commissioners said.

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