KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County legislators are asking their consultants to provide a recommendation on whether construction of a new $250 million jail should be delayed so that the county can negotiate a deal for Kansas City to share the detention center.
Right now, there’s no agreement to share costs for a new jail, and some legislators worry that every day of delay is raising the price tag of the project, as inflation makes the cost of building anything more expensive.
Kansas City leaders have agreed to try to make a deal with Jackson County for the city to have up to 300 beds in the new jail. But some county legislators continue to complain that the city is moving too slowly.
Jackson County broke ground on the new facility along 40 Highway two months ago. Pausing to alter design plans to meet the city’s needs may wipe out any cost savings of a shared detention center.
“There’s a lot of investment in this whole project so far, and we have nothing moving forward. While we have inflation, the cost of goods, all the other things we have been talking about and we still have nothing to show to move forward. It is extremely frustrating!” Legislator Jeanie Lauer said.
“And yet we still have the same conversations over and over and over, and we are still waiting. And something needs to happen. Either move forward, or we need to make some decisions. We are getting to that point I truly believe, where the county needs to stop being held hostage.”
Legislator Dan Tarwater has said that taxpayers in both jurisdictions would save between $50-100 million by sharing construction costs of a new combined detention center.
Municipal judges recently expressed concerns that domestic violence offenders are being released over the objections of judges because Kansas City doesn’t have enough jail space.
Several newly elected county legislators will be sworn in after the first of the year, and it increasingly looks like if there is a deal with Kansas City, it will be in their hands.