COLUMBUS — This afternoon, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 2 (HB 2) out of the chamber. HB 2 contains $2 billion dollars in infrastructure spending in a variety of areas. Specifically, CCAO is pleased to see the bill contain $250 million dollars to assist counties with jail construction projects and a statutory formula to determine how the money is allocated to counties. The formula provides support for both large and small counties and recognizes the different needs associated with jails in these communities. The level of state support to counties in HB 2 is unprecedented and further strengthens the state-county partnership.
The $250 million dollars represents a truly historic investment in county jails and the increased support could not occur at a better time for counties. Recently, CCAO and the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association (BSSA) updated a survey originally conducted in 2019 to determine the overall need for jail construction projects at the county level. The results of the survey showed there is currently an overall need of $2.2 billion dollars, which is an increase from 2019. Furthermore, inflationary factors have exacerbated the construction costs, with the average project cost increasing 41.5% from the initial bid to the expected completed cost of the project. For example, the initial cost of Coshocton County’s jail was $28 million dollars and the final cost came in at $43 million dollars.
Without state support, it is becoming increasingly hard for counties to construct or renovate existing jails solely using local dollars. Counties are under increasing pressure to modernize or update their existing jail to meet the complex mental health and substance abuse needs of the citizens housed in their jail. In fact, our survey showed that the most common reason for a new jail project was to increase the number of female jail beds, increase the mental health and drug addiction treatment capacity in jails, and last but certainly not least, to enhance the safety for corrections officers.
The proposed funding today builds on the previous investments in the most recent operating budget and the last two capital budgets. “CCAO is thankful for the renewed partnership and leadership in this area from the DeWine-Husted administration and the Ohio General Assembly” said CCAO President Chris Abbuhl. “We look forward to future conversations about the increased support for county jails and applauds Speaker Jason Stephens and the leadership of the Ohio House of Representatives for making jail funding a priority in House Bill 2.”
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.