Supervisors to consider $325 million bond sale to cover costs of jail

RIVERSIDE – The Board of Supervisors next week will consider whether to authorize the sale of up to $325 million in bonds to cover construction costs for the East County Detention Center in Indio, as well as other public projects in Riverside County.

The planned debt issuance is necessary because the county is at a ”stage in the (ECDC) project that it has exhausted its current resources and needs to finance the remaining part of the project,” according to an Executive Office statement posted to the board’s policy agenda.

The funding would not only cover jail construction costs, but also expenditures arising from building a parking lot at the site, as well improvements to the adjacent Larson Justice Center, the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

The ECDC is in the final planning stages, with state officials analyzing blueprints and potential long-term impacts of placing a 506,000-square-foot detention facility at the location, which is currently home to the 350-bed Indio Jail.

A county administrative complex on the 6.5-acre site at Highway 111 and Oasis Street was demolished earlier this year to make space for the future 1,626-bed jail, tentatively slated for completion in November 2016.

The board has made expanding and constructing detention facilities a top priority for the next six years. A study is underway to confirm the number of additional jail beds that will be required to meet growing demand for detention space; the sheriff’s department has put the figure at 10,000.

The county received a $100 million IOU from the state to help pay for the ECDC project. The entire cost will come to about $274 million, according to county officials.

The Executive Office stated that the $325 million in lease revenue bonds proposed for sale would provide the ”additional capacity” needed to ensure available funding from groundbreaking on the project to its completion.

The bonds would be sold in varying denominations, with interest rates not to exceed 6 percent and a maximum duration of 30 years, according to county documents.

Bank of America has been selected as the underwriter and would collect a maximum fee of just under a quarter percent on the sale of each IOU.

If the board OKs the sale on Tuesday, the bonds would go to market in late September or early October. Current fiscal year costs from the issuance would be about $876,000, drawn from the general fund, according to the Executive Office.

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