PLATTE CITY, Mo. — A new jail in Platte County could cost an estimated $61,165,380 based on a preliminary presentation from the Platte County Committee for Public Safety.
That committee has been tasked with recommending a plan for what to do about the county’s often-overcrowded jail facility in Platte City.
“I haven’t been out buying jails lately but it was not something that was unexpected,” Timmothy Thompson said after seeing the Committee’s report on what they would likely recommend.
His wife Tammy couldn’t help but think about how county voters could have started this project in 2019, when voters turned down a plan that would have expanded the jail capacity then.
“I just kind of wished now that we’d done it a couple years ago, when it was on the ballot,” Tammy Thompson said. “It would be a lot cheaper with the interest rates.”
The plan that will likely be recommended to the County Commission by Nov. 17 will add 320 beds to the 151 that the facility was designed to hold, bringing the total capacity to 471. That would more than handle where the current jail population is right now (around 200 inmates) and allow for the rapid growth expected in Platte County over the coming decades.
The plan would expand the existing jail into the parking lot to the north and keep the jail and courthouse in Platte City.
“I don’t like taxes, but I also like public safety,” Platte County Presiding Commissioner Scott Fricker said. “It’s important that the people who need to be in jail, that we have a place for them.”
There has been some tension over what to do next.
Platte County Judges have been pushing hard for an offsite justice center. FOX4 walked through the existing courthouse with some of the judges in September to see their concerns over security and a lack of space.
They opted not to do an on-camera interview with FOX4, and made the same decision tonight, but they tell FOX4 they’re disappointed that their concerns won’t get addressed and that the same growing Platte County population that makes a much larger jail necessary puts similar strains on their court facilities.
$20 million in the American Rescue Plan Act money is being used to renovate the existing court space, and convert other parts of the building into additional courtrooms, but the judges maintain that those improvements won’t fully address their concerns.
But, an offsite facility is expected to be considerably more expensive and Commissioner Fricker says keeping the jail and courts where they are is what the Commissioners will support.
“Offsite is much more expensive, plus this town of Platte City relies on Platte County government to keep this city going,” Fricker said.
The final report to the Commissioners is expected to be delivered by Nov. 17. Platte County voters will likely have to approve a plan to pay for whatever is picked.