Letter to the Editor: County board was ‘deliberate and strategic’ to put jail millage on ballot.

July 12, 2022

Letter to the Editor: County board was ‘deliberate and strategic’ to put jail millage on ballot.

Letters to the editor are opinion editorials submitted by readers. Letters to the editor are a long tradition in American journalism. The views and opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Oceana County Press, its staff or its parent company. For more information, please refer to OCP’s Op/Ed policy.

Dear Editor,

The Oceana County Board of Commissioners will be asking the citizens of Oceana County to approve a 2.25 millage proposal on the Aug. 2 ballot for a new jail and sheriff’s department facility. My hope in writing this letter is that you would find that our board was deliberate and strategic in our decision to place this millage on the ballot. Secondly, it is to let voters know where they can obtain more information to make an informed decision before voting.

The board of commissioners has known that the jail and sheriff’s department facility were lacking, but we didn’t know to what degree. Therefore, because our board is committed to making data-driven decisions, we asked the Honeywell Corporation to conduct a building analysis. It was determined it would take $4.5 million to $5.5 million to repair the existing facility. That still wouldn’t address the long term issue — the need for more beds, the inadequate amount of space in particular rooms (an unsuitably small medical room, for example), inadequate types of spaces (no mental health area, for example), and a more practical jail design. The cost of the repairs would require taking out a loan that would strap budgets in other departments. This works against another one of our commitments — improving the financial health of the county. Our board recognizes that the timing of this request is not ideal with rising costs of fuel, groceries and housing. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot wait.

A group of citizens has launched a website, complete with pictures of the needed repairs and space issues. It is well done and answers many questions voters may have. It can be accessed at https://saferoceanacounty.com. Voters can tour the jail July 13, 20 and 27 from 3-4 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. Group tours on other days can be scheduled by contacting the sheriff’s office directly.

Feel free to contact your county commissioner for answers to any questions you may have. We are here to serve you.

Please take all this information into consideration when voting on Aug. 2.

Phil Morse
District #6 Oceana County Board of Commissioners
New Era

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