The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors stand on the brink of making a couple of approvals Tuesday that could have a significant impact on the size and cost of a proposed new county jail.
At the meeting Tuesday in Redwood City, supervisors will be asked to approve a request by Sheriff Greg Munks to submit a preliminary application for a state funding grant that would contribute to paying for a portion of the new jail's construction costs.
According to a county report, up to $100 million in grant funding can be requested from the state. The expected total cost to build the new jail is between $100 million and $165 million.
The construction cost is independent from the expected expense of nearly $44 million annually that would be necessary to run the jail, the report indicated.
Supervisor Dave Pine has expressed concerns in the past about approving the jail's construction during a time when the county grapples with an ongoing deficity of roughly $50 million.
The county receiving the grant money could result in reducing jail-related debt by almost 60 percent. But in order to receive the state money, local jurisdictions would be required to match 10 percent of the total awarded amount, according to the county report.
Preliminary applications for the grant are due Oct. 14. Formal applications are due Jan. 4, 2012, and the money will be awarded the following month.
Much of the final costs to build the jail will be contingent on its size, and supervisors are expected to make a decision regarding the scope of the project on Tuesday as well.
Sheriff Munks is recommending supervisors approve proceeding with a plan to build a jail with the capacity to hold between 488 and 552 beds for inmates.
According to a county report, the new jail tower recommended by Sheriff Munks would be built three stories tall, standing at 72 feet high. Between 320 and 384 of the beds would be for male inmates, and 168 would be for female inmates.
And the proposed construction plan would also leave additional space to add more jail cells later in order to accommodate potential future overcrowding.
Another 40-foot building would be necessary to build alongside the jail tower that would house 88 beds as part of an inmate transition program that is dedicated to assisting former inmates with readjusting back into society after serving their time.
Much of the impetus to build the new jail is generated by growing concerns of the Sheriff's Office regarding limited space for inmates.
The county's current jail houses approximately 1,100 inmates, which is nearly 300 more people than the facilities are constructed to accommodate, Sheriff Munks has said.
And, due to state budget concerns, Governor Jerry Brown has approved sending non-violent prisoners currently jailed in state facilities back to local county jurisdictions.
Under the state-approved realignment, about 400 inmates currently held in state facilities for convictions of non-violent crimes will land back in San Mateo County for the rest of their sentence.
The relocation of inmates was scheduled to begin taking place on Oct. 1.
Last year, the county purchased 4.8 acres of land east of Highway 101 in Redwood City as a site to build the proposed new jail.
The Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the County Center in Redwood City to address these issues, and more.