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State could help pay for Albemarle-Charlottesville jail renovation

Albemarle County officials predict that the commonwealth of Virginia could pay roughly $12 million to help with planned renovations at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The total cost of that renovation is pegged at about $49 million, according to an estimate by Moseley Architects.

Under state law, localities can be reimbursed for 25% of major capital projects. Albemarle has predicted that $48 million of the total cost of the renovations is eligible.

The oldest parts of the jail, built in 1975, haven’t been upgraded at all. Even the newest sections, which were constructed in 2000, are now showing their age after more than two decades of use, according to the county.

The jail’s superintendent, Martin Kumer, told the Board of Supervisors at a meeting on Wednesday that the renovation wouldn’t be adding beds or increasing capacity. The planned renovation would update toilets and showers, climate control, mental health housing and outdoor recreation areas.

The county wouldn’t see any money for those upgrades from the state until 2026, according to representatives from the Davenport Company, the county’s financial adviser. Renovating the jail should only take about 18 months, according to county staff.

That’s partly because jails are financed in two parts. The first part covers the cost of design and engineering, estimated at $5 million.

“The final design has not been done at this point,” Kumer told supervisors.

Kumer said he has solicited opinions from the community and that the design process should start this summer, with a request for proposal going out some time in April.

Once the jail authority receives those bids, the second phase of the financing begins. That is when officials will fund project costs that aren’t eligible for the commonwealth’s 25% reimbursement policy. They will simultaneously undertake a grant anticipation note – short-term financing ahead of receiving a grant – to fund the parts of the renovation the state will later reimburse.

The city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle and Nelson use the jail. Each locality is expected to pay for its share of the renovation based on the number of days inmates from each place stay in the jail. According to current numbers, Albemarle will be responsible for 45.7% of the costs, while Charlottesville will cover 41.3% and Nelson 13%.

Those figures are not set in stone though, according to the county.

“The actual amount that each ACRJ member jurisdiction will pay will likely fluctuate a bit each year over the life of the debt obligation corresponding to changes in the annual update to the 5-year average calculation for each member jurisdiction,” Emily Kilroy, assistant to the county executive, said in an email to supervisors forwarded to The Daily Progress.

Board of Supervisors Chair Donna Price said that while Albemarle County has a larger population than Charlottesville or Nelson, inmates from Albemarle actually spend fewer total days at the jail than inmates from other localities.

“I would say kudos to the residents of Albemarle County for having much lower inmate days,” Price said at Wednesday’s meeting.


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