Douglas County staff to outline financing plan for jail expansion project

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

The Douglas County Commission will learn during its next meeting how county staff proposes to pay for a nearly $30 million jail expansion.

County Administrator Sarah Plinsky is expected to lay out the financial plans for the proposed $29.6 million expansion project during the commission’s meeting on Wednesday. The discussion is listed as informational only, which means the commissioners will not take any official action.

Plinsky is providing the update after Commission Chair Patrick Kelly recently asked her to publicly outline the financial details for the project. He asked for the update to come before the commissioners consider final approval, which is expected to occur by the end of the month. The commission has only two more meetings scheduled for January.

According to a presentation included in the meeting agenda, Plinsky said the county has up to $9 million in cash on hand that can initially be put toward the expansion project. That cash is also expected to fund the separate $1.5 million renovation of the jail’s central heating and cooling plant. Together, the main jail expansion project and the plant renovation cost an estimated total of $31.1 million.

Commissioners will determine how much of the $9 million will go toward the projects, Plinsky told the Journal-World Tuesday. Once that decision is made, the county staff proposes pursuing a bond issue with a 20-year debt service to finance the rest.

Plinsky said that could add more than $1 million of annual debt payments to the county’s budget. For example, she said a $25 million bond issue, spread over a 20-year period, would add between $1.57 million and $1.88 million of annual debt costs.

Additionally, Plinsky is also slated to explain how the one-cent sales tax referendum that Douglas County voters approved in 1994 allows the county to pursue bond financing for the expansion without a public vote. The commission previously pursued a larger jail expansion project, but Douglas County voters rejected it in a May 2018 referendum.

Prior to the regular meeting, the commissioners will meet for a work session to discuss prevention for behavioral health issues in the county.

In a memo to the commissioners, Bob Tryanski, the county’s director for behavioral health projects, said the discussion would provide an update to the commissioners about an “emerging strategic plan” and some community initiatives related to behavioral health.

The County Commission will meet at 4 and 5:30 p.m. for its work session and regular meeting, respectively, Wednesday at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at

Contact Dylan Lysen

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact reporter Dylan Lysen:


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.