SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Santa Barbara County was recently awarded a $38 million grant to build an inmate rehabilitation, recovery and re-entry facility adjacent to the county’s planned North County Jail on the outskirts of Santa Maria. In accepting the grant for the STAR Complex facility, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will have to agree to commit millions of dollars in county funding to complete and operate the 227-bed facility.
In a project update meeting, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told the board of supervisors that the project will increase safety and improve working and housing conditions for both staff and inmates, reported KCOY – NPG of California LLC. He added that the facility programs would include substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation as well as educational and vocational job skills training in a medium-security custody environment.
The STAR facility would be built alongside the nearly $100-million, 376-bed North County Jail scheduled to break ground next year and be completed by 2018. Most of the jail’s construction costs will also be paid by the state. Sheriff Brown said construction of the STAR facility could begin a year later and be completed by 2019 in the project meeting.
The County Grand Jury released a report that said both new jail facilities would cost $18 million in staff and operating costs in the first year they open based on current estimates and projections. Supervisors approved the acceptance of the state grant for the STAR facility, but they are concerned about the $18 million staff and operating price tag, as well as the county's financial obligations should construction costs exceed current estimates, according to KCOY.
The board of supervisors delayed a decision on a proposed Project Stabilization Agreement, which would cover labor contracts for construction of the jail project, pending more accurate cost estimates from the sheriff. Supervisors have until September to make a final decision before the county will move forward and start awarding bids for the new North County Jail due to break ground in June 2015.