Council votes not to consider revised justice center plan

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The City-County Council voted 16-13 Monday night against considering a scaled-down plan for a new Marion County criminal justice center.

City-County Councilman Robert Lutz made a motion at the beginning of meeting to consider the proposal but the council voted against it.

WMB Heartland Justice Partners presented a revised plan to the council on June 1 that would reduce the construction cost of the proposed center by $17.5 million, or 4.3 percent, from $408 million to $390.5 million.

WMB was selected in December as the preferred vendor to finance, build, operate and maintain a combined jail and court complex at the site of the former General Motors stamping plant west of downtown. However, the group's initial proposal was shot down in April by the council's Rules and Public Policy Committee.

WMB said it wanted the full council to vote on the revised plan Monday to keep a justice-center project alive.

The new plan would reduce the number of beds in the main detention center by 448, giving it 272 fewer beds than the existing 2,500-bed Marion County Jail. It also would reduce the number of courtrooms from 28 to 24, among other changes.

WMB said the changes would reduce service fees by $31 million dollars from 2018 to 2028.

City-County Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Marion County Sheriff John Layton, a former supporter, both opposed the revised plan. The council's rejection drew criticism from Mayor Ballard's office

"During the last six months, we have heard a lot of criticism from Council leadership, but nothing in the way of ideas," Ballard spokeswoman Jen Pittman said in a written statement. "Their intentional lack of engagement and unwillingness to think beyond their next political move carries a price tag. The cost of putting together a project of this scope is something this group has known all along, and it is something for which they need to be held accountable now."


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