County Leaders Eye State COVID-19, MAPS4 Funds For New Jail

Friday, January 7th 2022, 6:36 pm


We are getting a better idea of how county leaders hope to fund the construction of a new Oklahoma County jail.

Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners chairman Brian Maughan said they hope to tap into city, county and state funds to help pay for the estimated $300 million project.

“If we can get enough coalition partners, I’m in hopes that we can fund it without having to ask taxpayers for a tax increase,” Maughan said. 

Maughan authored an agenda item for a meeting next Monday asking the state for $75 million dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. That would be on top of the $152 million already given to the county directly from the federal government. Maughan said in light of new treasury guidance issued Thursday, that vote will likely be pushed back.

“(Lawmakers) are servicing the constituency of the state. We are the largest in the state and I think that’s the biggest argument for it because, if you look into where you can just have the biggest bang for the buck impact, Oklahoma County certainly has the most population,” Maughan said.

Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey said he supports asking lawmakers for a piece of the state’s $1.87 billion American Rescue Plan funds.

Commissioner Carrie Blumert, however, was less keen on the state ask. “Our board nor our committees have ever discussed this, and I am not ready to make a decision based on the limited information I have,” she said.

Maughan said things like HVAC and plumbing systems would likely qualify to be paid for using both state and county ARPA funds.

“You can’t just say ‘we’re going to go build a new jail with these ARPA funds,’ but there are things that are COVID related that hopefully can serve as a purpose to use those ARPA funds,” he said.

Maughan also mentioned approaching the city for a piece of its $40 million in MAPS4 funds earmarked for mental health and addiction programs.

“We’re also engaging with some grants and also with Oklahoma City, with the MAPS4 that voted for a mental health facility,” Maughan said. “We are appealing, or we will be appealing, to the city council to see if they can combine with us.”

According to the City of Oklahoma City’s MAPS4 website, the package voters approved in 2019 included $11 million to build two new mental health crisis centers, $22 million for a restoration center that includes a crisis center, methamphetamine detox, substance abuse services and more, and $7 million for temporary housing for people experiencing mental illness and homelessness.

“We are the largest mental health facility in the state de facto, not because we choose to be but because there really hasn’t been another place for law-enforcement to bring those that have committed a crime that are obviously suffering from mental illness,” Maughan said.

Maughan and Calvey also anticipate asking voters to extend a general obligation bond set to expire in 2023 and 2024. Maughan said a bond proposal could be sent to voters as early as this Spring.

“If we can get all of this combined, I’m hoping that we can put together a package that will actually be no tax increase to the taxpayers and get a new jail built,” Maughan said.