County agrees to joint jail
By Brian L. Gray
In a split vote, the Morton County Commission has agreed to partner with Burleigh County on a $50 million joint jail.
The commission, on a 3-2 vote, approved the new jail on Tuesday, July 9, with the understanding that Morton County will have 13 percent ownership, that a detention center operation committee is formed, that Morton jail staff is hired at the new jail and that a memorandum of understanding is written between both counties.
The jail will move forward only if voters approve a half-penny sales tax in both Morton and Burleigh County next June to assist in paying for the joint jail.
Commissioners Ron Leingang and Jim Boehm were the two that voted against the joint jail, saying it would be preferable if the county had more local control of the jail, and doing so would allow the county to have a better understanding of future operational costs.
Before the vote is cast in June 2014, both counties will choose design options for the jail and mutually approve the terms included in the memorandum of understanding.
Each county will pay for the operational costs based on the ratio of prisoners from the respective county, which commissioners plan to have counted once a year. Early numbers show that roughly 27 percent of the inmates at the potential prison would be from Morton County.
The proposed jail, if approved, would hold an estimated 460 inmates from both counties. The jail would be built in southeast Bismarck.