In the midst of an ongoing problem of what to do to accommodate the Madison County Detention Center's growing overpopulation problem, the city of Richmond offered the county the empty armory building on Second Street as a reprieve.
According to county Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor, he received a call from Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe Friday afternoon in which Blythe offered the 7,574 square foot facility as an option to help with overcrowding in the downtown jail.
"This was a very good and nice gesture, and we appreciate their thoughtfulness in being willing to help with solutions to our problem," Taylor said. "That has just been proposed to us, and it made my heart smile that he did that."
Just last week, the county approved the first reading of an ordinance which would increase the county's property tax from 8.2 cents to 19.6 cents per $100 in order to help finance the proposed $45 million new jail facility.
City manager Rob Minerich, after being asked by citizens what the city was able to do to help combat the issue, said the commissioners and mayor talked and decided to lease the 80-year-old facility to the county for $1 per year.
"We have had discussions about this for several weeks, and we thought of the armory on Second Street," Minerich said. "It is a large building that they could renovate and retrofit for non-violent offenders. It might be an option with the overcrowding of the jail, and the mayor offered that to Judge Taylor to see if that will help with their problem."
And while it would only be leased for $1 per year, the old armory building would require many renovations to get the structure to code and suited to accommodate standards of the Department of Corrections.
"There are a lot of questions, planning and inspections that would need to take place to accommodate needs," Taylor said in an interview with The Register. "We don't make those decisions for our facilities, and we have to follow DOC specifications."
Minerich explained that the $1 lease was offered because the building wasn't being used, and the city would not want to generate revenue if it could be used to help the county. Also, to his understanding, in order to transfer a property between governments, there had to be a dollar amount in order to fulfill the transfer.
"The county is an extension of state services, and we felt like, in good faith as a city, we should offer something, and this seemed like a good thing to do," Minerich stated.
Taylor said that while a lot of planning and inspections would have to take place before they could decide whether or not to house inmates there, it was something he would be on board with.
"If there is an opportunity there, if it is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars and works to our big picture, I am 100% on board for that," he said. "It made my heart smile to know the city is thinking of us in a positive manner and them understanding the challenges that the county faces."
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.