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New multi-million dollar jail proposed in Wood County

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Jail Label in Wood County

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WAOW) -- It's one of the biggest financial projects Wood County has seen in years. Building a new jail.

Officials say it's needed to save money.

"Before COVID hit, our inmate population was skyrocketing," said Sheriff Sean Becker, Wood County Sheriff's Department.

The new jail would add 87 beds for a total of 225. Meaning inmates could stay in the county.

"Right now that's costing the Wood County tax payers about $1.3 million a year. Just to house 90 people out of county," Becker said.

So what would it cost to build a new jail?

Back in 2001, $20 million dollars. Today, just over $56 million.

'The money would come out of taxpayers' pockets starting next year.

"Right now the tax implication we're looking at 30 cents per $1,000 of property value in the first couple of years. Eventually going up to 35 cents and then reducing after 5 years,"

If that holds up it would be about another $30 per year.

For law enforcement officials its about more than just getting a new jail. Its also adding things like mental health services.

Sheriff Becker says that could help keep inmates out of jail once they are released.

"They made mistakes alright, they're going to do there time, but if we don't do anything while their in custody they're coming back eventually. If we can't help them through whatever issues there are and try, that re-citizen rate is going to stay the same," Becker said.

Wood county residents who want to voice their opinion can do so at the next public meeting.

That's set for 6 p.m. on May 26th at the Wisconsin Rapids Area Middle School.

The new jail, if approved, would start construction in 2022.

The decision will come from the Wood County Board at their meeting in June.

Bobby Falat

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