Legislation to be Introduced to Purchase Land and Extend Sales Tax to Advance Plans Toward Replacing Outdated, Noncompliant County Jail

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Media Contacts:
Tyler Sinclair: (216) 225-3693; tsinclair01@cuyahogacounty.us 

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH – Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish will present legislation to County Council next week to acquire property and extend the sales tax to facilitate plans to replace the 46-year-old Corrections Center. 

We are keenly focused on fairness in the criminal justice system,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “We previously created the first Diversion Center in Ohio, so that nonviolent offenders with mental health and/or addiction issues could avoid jail and be treated outside the criminal justice system.  Similarly, we will soon be opening Central Booking, again to speedily remove nonviolent offenders from jail for treatment in the community.

Some violent offenders must be in jail.  Based upon in-depth studies and investigations, it is clear that our current jail is outdated.  A new jail will be more safe, efficient, and effective both for the prisoners and the corrections personnel, and will enable the County to satisfy all State standards.

I am submitting for consideration by County Council legislation that would enable the County to proceed with purchasing property for a new jail and legislation that would enable the County to pay for it.  The legislation would not raise taxes, but would only extend the current one quarter percent sales tax.”

In early 2019, a group of stakeholders convened the Cuyahoga County Justice Center Executive Steering Committee to lead the planning process.  The group consists of representatives from the County Executive’s Office, County Council, County Prosecutor’s Office, County Public Defender’s Office, Common Pleas Court, City of Cleveland, and other county and city officials.  At a meeting held on November 12, 2020, the Committee unanimously decided that it was impractical to renovate the current jail and that future planning should be limited to consideration of a new facility.  The Committee directed the County to proceed with this plan and begin the site exploration, criteria architect RFQ, and capital financing processes.

Over the last two years, the County, in coordination with the Steering Committee, has explored, reviewed, and considered over two dozen site options.  The County has remained in consultation with the Steering Committee along the way and future decisions will be made through that group. 

The proposed legislation that will be introduced next week authorizes:

  • A $20,000,000 Purchase Agreement made by the county for three parcels of land located at 2700 Transport Road in Cleveland
  • The County to accept assignment of a $6,407,000 Purchase Agreement between the Greater Cleveland Community Improvement Corporation (GCCIC) and Ohio Properties 2021 LLC for five parcels of land located near Interstate 77 and Heidtman Parkway
  • Enacting a new chapter to the County Code that extends the existing quarter percent County sales tax for a continuing period of time

The Transport Road property is the proposed location for the new jail pending a current ongoing analysis to ensure the site can be cleared of environmental restrictions.  The $6.4 million purchase agreement with GCCIC gives the County control over the parcel that will help facilitate the acquisition of the Transport Road property.

The existing quarter percent sales tax, which was implemented in 2007 and set to expire in 2027, will be extended under the proposed legislation.  The sales tax generates revenue for the County’s General Fund which provides various county services to residents and visitors.  The revenue will be allocated towards funding the new jail and a new or renovated courthouse through bonds.  The County’s Sales Tax Revenue Bonds recently received an exemplary rating by Moody’s and an “AAA” designation by Standard and Poor’s – the highest rating given – indicating strong economic health of the community.  The County’s fiscal responsibility was also recognized last month when it received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award – the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

The proposed legislation will be introduced at the County Council meeting next Tuesday, August 2nd.  The legislation will go through multiple Council and Committee meetings before a vote is held.