Smith County breaks ground on jail expansion
tyler — The first leg of construction for the $35 million, voter approved jail bond kicked off Thursday morning in Tyler.
This first phase of construction will include the relocation of Smith County kitchen and laundry facilities in order to streamline jail services. It will also include the addition of a video visitation station that will improve safety and security during the visitation process. Construction of the Low Risk Facility portion of the jail project is expected to last about 36 weeks. Construction on the downtown portion of the jail improvement plan is scheduled to begin late in the year.
“It’s been a long time comin’ and a long time overdue, but thanks to this Commissioner’s Court and the public’s confidence, we see a brighter future,” Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith said.
A total of $40.875 million in bonds were issued in July, 2011; $35 million for the jail bond at an interest rate of 2.564 percent and the refunding of about $5 million in existing county debt at 1.7489 percent interest. Due to the high bond ratings that Smith County received from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s in June; along with falling interest rates, the County will pay off the jail bond much faster and less expensively than originally anticipated.
The jail bond was structured with a 12 year amortization schedule, which is three years shorter than originally projected. When combined with the lower interest rate of the re-issued debt, Smith County is set to save approximately $376,000 in total interest expenses.
“We are proud that we will be able to pay this off even sooner and save money for the citizens of Smith County because of these lower rates and our high bond rating,” County Judge Joel Baker said.
From Smith County