Mono Supes weigh building a new Bridgeport jail vs. tacking on an annex
Money has recently become available to either update the existing Mono County Jail, located in Bridgeport, or construct a new one. The question for Mono County Supervisors on Tuesday, January 3 was whether to apply for a $25 million in funding for a shiny new facility (with a $2 million matching fund by the County) that would include a medical clinic for the community, or build an annex next to the existing building for an estimated $2 million (with a contribution from the County of $200,000-$500,000). The estimated cost of a new jail 10 years ago was more than $50 million.
Senate Bill 844 (SB 844), revenue bond funding for jail improvements, provides up to $25 million to small counties for facility improvements and to meet the medical and mental health needs of inmates. Supervisors were divided on the investment given the laundry list of other projects like road repair, the proposed new County offices in Mammoth, and a possible $1 million lawsuit with Ormat Technologies, the local geothermal power company.
The Supervisors voted 2-3 against a new jail and voted in favor of the annex 3-2. New District 4 Supervisor John Peters, whose district includes Bridgeport, and District 1 Supervisor Larry Johnston were the minority votes.
The annex would be built on land currently owned by Frontier Communications, and the option is contingent on the sale of that property. If Frontier doesn’t want to sell, County staff will pursue the new jail, the option the Supervisors just rejected.
SB 844 money will come in the form of reimbursements, only available once construction starts. The grant doesn’t cover money spent before construction begins.
A medical clinic would be located inside the new jail with security precautions to ensure that inmates and the general public would not see the doctor on the same days. The Bridgeport Clinic, operated by Mammoth Hospital on contract through the county, has had reduced hours and only been open sporadically since June. Hospital CEO Gary Myers told the Supervisors in June that there is a lack of medical professionals to operate the clinic and it had to cut back hours.