(FOX40.COM) — In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of increasing spending for a new intake and mental health annex at the county Main Jail to nearly $1 billion.
The public made their voice heard in opposition to the continuation of the project as dozens of people spoke in the chambers and called into the meeting for more than an hour.
Supervisors Patrick Kennedy and Phil Serna were the two no votes on the continued spending of the project.
“I am not convinced that our pencil is sharp enough,” Kennedy said. “… I am not convinced that we are in a financial place. Do I think the facility is necessary, yes, but I am not here yet. The price tag is just too much for me to swallow.”
In December 2022, the board approved a $464.1 million plan to improve the jails ability with addressing medical care, mental health, out cell time and more by constructing a new intake and health services facility.
Since the initial preliminary price tag of the project construction, costs have gone to $503 million which is around a $50 million increase from the December preliminary costs.
An additional $151 million in “soft costs” such as permitting, furniture and utility costs, was also added to the budget as those costs were unknown at the time of the December cost estimates.
This now brings the total cost of the project to $654 million and the approved spending on Tuesday takes the bond debt to $925 million, mainly to due to potentially higher expenditures moving forward.
“There is clearly a need for improved conditions at our jail, improved availability for mental health treatment in out jail system, but when it is approaching the numbers that it is at this point I feel more strongly than I did back in December that I don’t want to look back and say that for different reasons that I was boxed in and had no other choice.” Serna said.
In 2019, the Mays Consent Decree required that the county improve several aspects of its two jail facilities run by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office including:
• Medical Care
• Mental Health Care
• Out of Cell Time
• Americans with Disability Act compliance
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
The consent decree also called for the county to create and execute a jail population reduction plan and to reduce the lengths of stay and returns to custody.
“The consent decree does not say ‘though shout build anything,'” Serna said.
However, the county’s legal council advised that the situation is rather black and white if they did not pass the increased spending plan and continue with the project.
“If the board doesn’t proceed with the staff recommendations, what I think would happen is we get a letter probably by the end of the week notifying us ‘where is Plan B,” county counsel Rick Heyer said. “… I don’t think we would have plan B at this for what that was.”
Even though the county now has the option to spend nearly $1 billion on the construction of the Main Jail annex it does not necessarily mean they will need to spend that much money to complete the project.
A timeline of the project presented at the meeting shows construction beginning in January 2026 and occupancy of the building taking place in July 2028.