Sonora, Ca — By a 3-1 vote, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted to deny acceptance of $13.6 million in AB 900 Jail funding.
On September 24th, the County received an e-mail from the California Correctional Standards Authority stating that it is in line to receive $13.6 million, but a decision on whether to accept the grant has to be made by September 25th. Because the Board of Supervisors had stated at past meetings that the County is not yet ready to take on the project, CAO Craig declined the award on behalf of the County, given the inability to schedule the matter for Board discussion.
The County later learned that the deadline is actually October 30th, and the September 25th date was an internal mistake made by the CSA. The project was discussed at length today by the Board of Supervisors.
?We assured the public that we would have a valid, sound, financing package before we launched this project,? said Board Chair Dick Pland. ?We certainly don´t have that right now.?
The $13.6 million would have had to be matched by the County, and the total cost of the 250 bed law enforcement center is estimated to be around $120 million.
Supervisor Mark Thornton cast the lone dissenting vote. Thornton said that he would like the Board to have a discussion next week on whether it would be beneficial to ask staff to look at the feasibility of moving the county seat to Jamestown.
?Legally the county seat can be moved,? said Thornton. ?It was a political decision made 150 years ago when Jamestown, Columbia, Big Oak Flat, and Sonora were all asking to be the county seat. Maybe Sonora is just last century, and in the 21st century we need to leave the City of Sonora. If we leave the incorporated City of Sonora and go to Jamestown which is non-incorporated, there would be a revenue bump for the County, because the sales tax would then go to us.?
Thornton added that it could open up discussion on whether it would be feasible to build a jail facility at the Jamestown Mine Site, at a considerably less cost than in Sonora. The County is currently in the process of purchasing 48 acres of land off Old Wards Ferry Rd. for the project.
Written by BJ Hansen