Otsego County Voters to Decide on New Jail and Sheriff’s Office Millage for Third Time
Otsego County voters on Tuesday’s election are deciding on a new jail and sheriff’s office millage proposal.
The millage failed in May because voters thought the project was too big and too expensive.
“The county sent out a survey, and most of the survey was that it was just too big and too expensive,” said Otsego County Jail Administrator Captain Brian Webber. “Listening to that and going back to the drawing board, we had to figure out, ‘Ok maybe it was too big,’ so we’ll cut it back a little bit, but not so far that it’s going to cripple us.”
The millage went from 1.95 mills to 1.15 mills over a 20 year period–which would bring $34 million to the project.
This new millage also cuts out the proposed court complex and decreases the amount of beds in the jail from 120 to 96.
“It’s very small, it’s 54 years old,” said Captain Webber. “It’s a linear design, which is how they did it back in the 60s, and it’s not totally appropriate for the way we do incarcerations now.”
Captain Webber says the biggest issue with not having a larger jail is what it’s doing to the judicial system in Otsego County.
“We have over 500 probationers, some are felony probation, some are misdemeanor probation,” said Captain Webber. “You can’t reinforce the rules on probation without jail space.”
He says another issue is overcrowding.
“We’ve been chronically overcrowded for 25 years, but minimal overcrowding starting 30 years ago,” said Captain Webber.
Captain Webber says the jail doesn’t serve the needs of the community anymore.
“We all chose Gaylord to live in for a reason, or Otsego county for a reason,” he said. “This jail’s too small for this county now.”