Officials have postponed making a decision on an estimated $6 million-$7 million renovation project at York County Prison, hoping to shave some of the cost.
County Commissioner Doug Hoke led discussions at Tuesday's prison board meeting, saying the county should investigate options to ease congestion at the prison's admissions area before committing to the proposed multi-million-project. The board unanimously agreed to table the project.
Hoke on Wednesday morning said he'd like to wait a couple months, until Warden Mary Sabol and other county staff are able to look into scheduling changes and other possibilities to avoid the more costly project.
"We're hoping to find a long-term solution," Hoke said. "I'm just not sure we need to spend $6 million on a new admissions area. It's not something that has to be done right now."
Board member Robb Green, county controller, said Wednesday morning that further investigation is warranted. But the admission area is still a priority because it hasn't been improved since the prison opened in the 1970s.
"It's not something that's going to go away," he said.
Sabol said at a meeting last month, when it appeared the board would seek estimates for an admissions project, that the area was built for the 238 inmates the prison had in 1979. There are about 2,400 prisoners today.
Sheriff Richard Keuerleber, who also serves on the board, on Wednesday said it makes sense to hold the project and "take a breather to look at alternatives."
But he also said the need for improvements is unavoidable.
He has, in an effort to "keep court system moving," started processing some prisoners in his department when the prison's admissions area is shut down for processing of federal immigration detainees.
At last month's meeting, Sabol said constables and sheriff's deputies are struggling with the admissions area, because there's only one entrance and exit despite the volume of prisoners processed.
While board members have agreed about the need for improvements, Hoke and other officials have expressed concerns about moving forward when the county just approved an 8.9 percent tax increase and there are other costly projects being considered.
Among those are a $5 million to $10 million project to finish the fifth floor of the York County Judicial Center and proposals to address lack of space in York County Archives.
The county is still finishing a nearly $7 million prison project to move work-release prisoners from temporary trailers into a recently completed building, and mulling the fifth-floor proposal.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.