Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley told council at a meeting on Feb. 25 that he recently spent some time fielding calls from the public asking about the city’s plans to build a jail. Beazley, who was in Columbus, was puzzled, since there were no such plans.
Apparently, a TV station in Toledo believed such was the case and had broadcasted the inaccurate story, which sparked the inquiries from Oregon residents.
“Someone from one our local media outlets took a cursory look at Oregon council’s agenda and concluded that Oregon was building a jail,” Beazley joked to council. “I was in Columbus with the EPA, and I kept getting calls from people asking me about this jail we were building.”
The item on council’s Feb. 25 agenda that had apparently confused the station was a resolution expressing support for the Lucas County board of commissioners, in cooperation with the Lucas County sheriff’s office, to submit a grant application to the Ohio Department of Development Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) for the purpose of obtaining financial assistance to study the feasibility of replacing the current Lucas County Correction Facility.
“They gain additional points if other jurisdictions pass resolutions in support of their application for funding,” explained Beazley. “This is not something that the City of Oregon would fund, and we don’t have any other interest in it other than our taxpayers benefit from an efficiently operated county jail system.
The Ohio Department of Development administers, and has made available, the local LGIF for local jurisdictions to enhance efficiency, collaboration, or shared services in government operations. The fund was established to provide financial resources for planning and short-term financing to implement planned projects.
Lucas County officials say that the current county correctional center is operationally obsolete and does not provide an optimal environment for inmates nor correction officers. The building does not meet current efficiency standards, requiring significantly more personnel than facilities of comparable size. In addition, it is believed that the physical plant has reached its usable life. There are several costly capital projects, which will require attention in the short term to maintain the facility. As a result, the feasibility study is needed to determine whether the correctional facility should be replaced. The Local Government Innovation Fund grant would assist with studying opportunities to create operational efficiencies in a new, refurbished, or repurposed Lucas County Correctional Center.
The city’s relationship with the county has changed over the years, said Beazley.
“We have been working on it for a couple of years. We spend a lot less on jails than we have historically and the county has picked up that burden as we move forward. I think we would all benefit as county taxpayers if this were a more efficient system. I do want to emphasize this is just a resolution in support of their application for state funding in the spirit of regional cooperation. We would have no financial obligation associated with this project. The resolution makes that clear,” said Beazley.