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PAULDING - The Paulding County Jail, an 1876 building thought to be one of the oldest county jails in Ohio, would be replaced if county voters approve a 0.5-mill, 17-year bond issue in November.
County commissioners this week unanimously took the first step toward putting a bond issue on the November ballot. They have not scheduled a time to vote on the second step and have months to do so before the board of elections deadline.
Commissioners want about $3.4 million to renovate a former American Electric Power Co. office building in Paulding into a 52-bed county jail. They have the promise of a $1.82-million grant from the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention and hope voters will agree to bill property owners for the rest.
Yesterday 27 inmates were in the jail on South Williams Street, a block from the county courthouse. That's twice as many as the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention recommends.
When the jail has about 30 inmates, county officials send new prisoners to Van Wert County Jail, which charges $42 a day per inmate. Transporting inmates to and from Van Wert, however, is a significant expense, Paulding County administrator Stan Searing said.
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All women inmates from Paulding County are sent to Van Wert because Paulding County Jail does not have enough space for privacy for two sexes. Inmates who use a wheelchair would also be sent to Van Wert; the Paulding jail has no elevators.
There are a few older county lockups in Ohio, according to state officials, but those buildings hold inmates only for short periods of time.
The oldest county jail in Ohio is thought to be in south-central Ohio's Pike County in a building dating to 1861. It is to hold inmates for no more than 12 hours before releasing them or taking them to another jail.
This is not the first time Paulding County officials have mulled replacing the jail. In the mid 1990s, leaders had a plan to build and jointly operate a jail with Putnam County. But voters rejected a bond issue.
Last year, county leaders were set to start renovating the office building into a jail on a budget of $2.2 million. But they were stunned when bids were 50 percent above estimates.
The proposed 0.5-mill bond issue would raise nearly $149,000 a year at a cost of $15.31 to the owner of a $100,000 home.
Over its 17-year life, the bond issue would raise more than $2.5 million. Of that, $700,000 would go toward interest payments, estimated at a rate of 4.5 percent, because the commissioners would receive $1.8 million up front and taxpayers would repay it over time.
Operating costs would be higher than in the current facility, but the county has funds for such costs, Mr. Searing said.
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