"Waste Of The Week" on The National Desk: California County Jail Expansion Over Budget by Millions 137_TND_WOTW_CA_Jail_and_covid_spending

August 26, 2022 03:58 PM


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by ELISSA SALAMY | The National Desk

A 22,500-square-foot jail expansion project in Mendocino County, California, was first introduced in 2019. But now, thanks to increased labor costs and higher prices of materials, the project is becoming more and more expensive. 

"The original budget was just shy of $30 million. This is a small county. The jail would serve approximately 60 inmates and everyone agrees that they do need to upgrade," said Open the Books' Adam Andrzejewski. "The new price is $7-$8 million higher now. County officials are blaming, of course, inflation on the cost overrun." 

Mendocino County received $16.8 million through the American Rescue Plan and $22.6 million in a settlement from PG&E -- and many are wondering why that money can't be used to cover costs for the jail expansion. 

"Nobody really knows what assets and what the county spends its money on," Andrzejewski said to The National Desk's Jan Jeffcoat. "At the county board meeting this came to light, one of the elected officials said there are three sets of books. He says he doesn't even know what set of books is correct, if any." 

Mendocino County District 3 Supervisor John Haschak said that costs for the county "have increased, and revenues are flat."

We were able to cover costs during the COVID-19 epidemic, fund many projects that have been needed for recovery from the devastating fires, and better prepare for future events," said Haschak in a letter to the Mendocino Voice earlier this month. "I am proposing that we have a special Board meeting to work out these issues of communication and differing books. If we all aren’t on the same page, then we have real problems and the public deserves better."
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