JEROME • In May, Jerome voters will be asked to decide for a fifth time about funding a new jail.
Jerome County commissioners decided in a split 2-1 vote last week to move forward with a ballot measure during the May 21 election.
A bond amount hasn’t been set yet.
Reed Miller of Idaho Falls, vice president of Ormond Builders and a consultant for the county, is reevaluating the cost of building a new jail. He wasn’t available to comment Monday.
Commission Cathy Roemer voted “no” on the May election date.
She said on Monday that the vote wasn’t about whether the county needs a new jail — just about whether to pursue a bond in May.
“With so many financial unknowns, I thought it best to take a ‘wait and see’ approach and see where we are in another 6-8 months,” she wrote in an email to the Times-News.
Roemer said Jerome County could lose $933,000 in revenue if state legislators repeal the personal property tax. And she said health insurance costs could increase during the coming years.
Also, the city of Jerome plans to take a ballot measure to voters during the May election to fund upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.
The City Council hasn’t made a final decision yet, but members of a citizen advisory group are recommending a $56.5 million bond issue.
“I thinking asking taxpayers to vote more taxes upon themselves will jeopardize the passage of both proposals,” Roemer said.
Proponents of a new jail say the current facility must be replaced for the safety of inmates and staff, as well as to address issues such as plumbing and electrical wiring hazards.
Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall said the design plan for a new jail is the same as the last bond election.
However, minor parts of the plans may change as the project moves forward, he said.
To get ready for the May election, the jail administrator is putting together a citizen advisory group.
It will research some options for the jail and ways to educate the public about the jail situation, McFall said.
There have been four other attempts to pass a jail bond, starting in 2009.
Though the majority of voters have supported the past bond measures, the numbers haven’t reached the 66.7 percent supermajority needed to OK the funding.
The latest attempt was in May 2012 for a $10.7 million bond. It received support from 63 percent of voters.