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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hardin, MT Built Prison And Can't Afford TO Run It

Hardin, Montana built  $27 million Two Rivers Correctional Facility thinking they could cash in on a prison for hire.  Consultants from Texas sold the good people of Hardin, Montana on this scheme to become a prison for hire.  Jobs was the big selling point to voters.

The Two Rivers prison was completed in 2007 and has been sitting empty since completed.  No money to operate the place is the problem and no customers to use it either.  In may of 2008, Hardin defaulted on the bonds citizens approved for the construction of the prison.  In October of 2009 they made a play to house inmates from Gitmo.  Their appeal went nowhere with the military brass and others looking for a place to house Gitmo's inmates.  People who had faith in their elected officials feel betrayed and bewildered.

This is another great example of elected officials leading citizens down the primrose path of prosperity if they only stepped up and built this prison.  After all the consultants from Texas said it was a sure thing. Bankruptcy and defaulting on the bonds was not on anyone's mind when they voted to approve this new prison.

Here is a link to the Hardin tale of woe and bankruptcy. Hardin Tale of Woe.  Think it can't happen here, think again.  Canyon County is about to have a bond election to build a jail project and the funds to operate the place are in question.  We can no longer afford to operate our dogie jail,  where will the funds come to run a new jail if it gets built.  $60/day is the average costs to keep someone in jail.  This figure comes to just over $14 million additional tax dollars to run this new jail project. 

Is this a case of "if we build it we'll find $14 million somewhere"?  Portland, Oregon's Multnomah county thought this would happen with the Wapato facility they build for $58 million and the place has sat empty since 2004.  Rocky Mountain Corrections out of Colorado told Commishes and the Sheriff they would never be able to build their way out of a jail space problem back in 2006.  They ignored the advice of their own consultants and have twice brought a bond election forward and twice it has been rejected by voters.

The economic health of our county is on the line with this jail project. The federal government is not giving Canyon County $10 million for this jail project.  If we float $46 million in bond debt that is what we will have to pay back to the lenders and underwriters.   We need a big dose of fiscal responsibility on August 3rd.  What is wanted and what we can actually afford to pay for in this economy are at odds with one another.

 It will cost taxpayers $47,000.00 per day over and above current jail costs if this bond passes muster with voters who actually take the time to vote on this issue.  $7k/day to pay for the bond and $39k/day to run the place.
We question the ability of taxpayers to absorb this tax shock.

1 comment:

  1. The video is an eye popper. How could reasonable people be so dumb? The guy doing the talking in the video needs to come here and expalain it to Ferd, Rule and Ms. Alder.


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