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Allen County Council approves $5.9 million bond payment for new jail

The proposed jail, designed by Elevatus Architecture, has yet to receive full funding by the Allen County Council.
Elevatus Architecture
The proposed jail, designed by Elevatus Architecture, has yet to receive full funding by the Allen County Council.

Allen County now has the money it needs for the new jail. In a four to three decision, The Allen County Council voted to reverse its January decision and approve the 5.9 million dollars needed for the first bond payment for the Building Corporation, a nonprofit established to incur county debt on major public projects and pay it off in bonds.

Allen County Commissioners Chief of Staff Chris Cloud said this was the final substantive vote the Allen County Commissioners needed from the council for the new jail.

“It is the last financial component that council will need to vote on related to financing the jail,” Cloud said. “There are still some technical votes that will be needed during the bonding process and our use of a building corporation and a lease purchase agreement, but they are technical in nature.”

A community member's complaint to the Indiana Department of Local Government Financing (DLGF) will further delay groundbreaking for the jail. The DLGF is reviewing the commissioners’ use of a building corporation for the jail and must give its approval before construction can begin. In Tuesday’s federal court hearing, attorneys for Allen County said they expect that ruling by the end of February.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it’s prepared to file for immediate prisoner release from the current Allen County Jail if construction is delayed further, according to court documents.

In that same hearing, US District Judge Damon R. Leichty set a status filing deadline for March 4.

At Wednesday’s county council meeting, a community member raised the idea of waiting for the DLGF to rule before voting on the bond payment. Council Vice President Paul Lagemann said the judge’s deadline took precedence.

“If we have mandatory prisoner release, if we have to shift from flat rate income tax over to property tax, all of those have massive ramifications and really detrimental ramifications for this community,” Lagemann said.

Lagemann said he felt confident the DLGF would approve the jail project and that construction can begin as early as June of this year.

Leichty said he’d like to see the jail finished by April 2027.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.