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STEWART FAVORS ADDING 3RD POD TO OXBOW JAIL, BUT 2 DEMOS DISAGREE

The lone Republican on the Salt Lake County Commission wants to build on to the new Oxbow Jail, but his Democratic colleagues are worried the existing building may not fill up.

At a news conference Monday, Republican Commissioner Mike Stewart said he wants to spend $300,000 to add a third pod to the jail. The money would come from the approximately $800,000 in bond proceeds voters approved to build the jail, 3300 S. 1100 West.At the same time, Democrat Jim Bradley said he disagrees with the proposal. Last week, Bradley and fellow Democratic Commissioner Randy Horiuchi said the jail must be changed to hold more than minimum-security prisoners and the leftover bond money should be spent elsewhere.

"You don't buy an item, even if it is on sale, if you don't need it," Bradley said Monday.

As of Sunday, only 75 prisoners, all misdemeanor criminals, were in the jail designed to hold 540. Meanwhile, the downtown jail remains between 80 percent and 87 percent of capacity. An agreement between the county and South Salt Lake stipulates that only misdemeanor offenders be housed at the Oxbow facility. South Salt Lake officials and Stewart want to keep it that way.

Stewart said he believes the county eventually will need the space for misdemeanor offenders and that mixing in offenders of more serious crimes would make costs soar.

Stewart said the county has an obligation to spend all the money for the jail and not for other purposes. He said making the expansion now would save money because it would beat inflation and contractor "start-up" costs.

"My colleagues have suggested that we use the remaining bond proceeds, or as much as possible, to pay for currently budgeted proj-ects for the sheriff's office, such as communications, equipment, remodeling, etc.," Stewart said.

Bradley and Horiuchi have said that such expenditures could help reduce the size of an expected $8 million to $9 million tax increase in June, according to Stewart.

"While this is politically expedient and an attractive idea, it would be poor public policy. This bond was put to the voters and sold to investors as a bond for the construction of the badly needed Oxbow facility," Stewart said.

Bradley said the bond agreement allows some "latitude" in how the money is spent. He said he plans to release a statement on the funding later.

Stewart wants the money spent this year. Salt Lake County paid a $9,000 penalty last week for not spending the bond money, and another penalty will be charged in September. If the money isn't spent by March 1993, the bonds may lose their tax-exempt status. That will cause, Stewart said, the county to lose its AAA bond rating - "a calamity that would destroy the county's credit rating and financial standing."

Stewart said only 14 counties nationwide still have such a rating.