Jail Project - 2016 Ballot Measure

Working in coordination with all Cities the County crafted a Jail Facility Financing and Use Agreement (JFFUA) in which all parties approved by city and county council action in June and July of 2017. This document will determine the long term financing for this critical project pending a voter approved ballot measure to fund the construction of a new Jail.  The cost of a new Sheriff's Office is not included in the JFFUA and will be funded separately by Whatcom County.   

In coordination with the approval of the JFFUA, Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham crafted and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to ensure the continued support of incarceration prevention and reduction programs.  The Parties agreed to recognize and fully support the goals of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) and commit over $30 Million dollars over 30 years to incarceration prevention and reduction programs.   

Whatcom County has contracted with Design2LAST, Inc., to design the necessary renovations to the existing jail facility. The assessments in Phase 1A were completed in December 2016 and addressed the physical conditions and operations of the existing jail and work center. Phase 1B which anticipates the renovations needed to keep the jail as safe and secure as possible until a new jail can be built, is currently under development. 
Extensive maintenance and renewal work is projected to cost more than $32M as outlined in the Design2LAST report.  According to that report due to the existing jail configuration and footprint this work will not provide any meaningful or permanent answers to space related issues such as medical, booking, classification and programs. Currently, Whatcom County budgets and spends approximately $1.2M per year on general repair and maintenance of current jail facilities, and in recent years completed a $2.5M upgrade to the electronic jail controls.  Major renovations will be undertaken as many systems reach the end of their lifecycles.