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Protests soon over jail that is about to break ground

Apr 29, 2019 12:59 am
Steve Hughes reports in the Albany Times Union that as Greene County gets ready to break ground on a new county jail, those opposed to the project are launching their largest protest May 5. Every story written about the jail cites a different cost for the project, and Greene County legislators have never said exactly how much taxes will go up and services will be cut to pay for the project. The Times Union says it is a $47 million project, paid for by a $39 million USDA loan at 3.5 percent interest, and $8 million in taxpayer funds, with at least $2.2 million a year of taxpayer money going to the county’s debt service for the next 30 years. Lori Torgersen, a former county legislator who also worked for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and served as the Director of Statewide Reentry, said the total cost to Greene County taxpayers is closer to $70 million. “Does this make sense to strap a poor county with a bill like this when there are alternatives?” she said. "Look, nothing is done until it’s done. At what point is it fiscally irresponsible and reckless to spend that much money on something just because you started it?” Since April 2018 when the old jail was closed in Catskill, the county has been paying money to other counties to house prisoners, but the sheriff’s office did not lay off any deputies after the jail was shutdown, so taxpayers are paying more. Patrick Linger, chairman of the county legislature, said the project will be built starting in May. “Everyone’s opinion was listened to, everything that was brought to us was taken into consideration,” he said. Read the full story in the Albany Times Union.