Canadian County pays off jail debt early

$4.5M, 12-year loan from 2013 expansion project now retired

327
Two convicted felons have been charged with assaulting sheriff's deputies and a fellow inmate at the Canadian County Jail in El Reno. (File photo)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Canadian County has paid off a construction loan for a 2013 jail expansion project – and it’s retired the debt several years early.

Last fall, Canadian County officials agreed to pay off what was left on a $4.5 million construction loan through the annual general fund budget.

Canadian County Commissioners on Jan. 11 approved making the final payment on the county jail loan, with the payoff totaling $1,281,116.88. The 12-year loan originated on Dec. 30, 2011.

District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson

“We had three more years left to pay,” District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson said.

“Instead of having money in a savings account not drawing any interest, why not use it to pay off debt? That’s really what it boils down to.”

The county had been making annual payments of about $450,000 on that jail construction loan.

Canadian County had borrowed $4.5 million nine years ago to build a 122-bed addition to the county jail, 208 W Rogers in El Reno.

This expansion project, completed in December 2013, increased inmate capacity from 72 to 194 at the medium-security detention center.

Commissioner Anderson noted the savings in interest costs by paying off the loan early.

“We had begun setting money back for future needs,” Anderson said. “Rather than paying interest on the balance of our loan, we thought it was a good idea to pay that loan off.”
At a county budget hearing last August, Sheriff Chris West said retiring the jail construction debt was “a great idea” and “totally the right thing to do.”

Starting with the COVID-19 shutdown last March and continuing for several months in 2020, Canadian County’s jail inmate population stayed in the 125-150 range.

Commissioners agreed to use excess funds in the county’s $32 million FY21 budget to retire the jail debt.

Advertisement

NUMBERS INCREASE

Over the past three months, the total population count for the Canadian County Jail has ranged from 189 to 210.

With peak capacity at 194 at the county’s detention facility, some Canadian County inmates are housed in other counties – specifically Dewey, Washita and Grant.

When inmates must be quarantined due to COVID-19, this reduces capacity in the county lockup.

Here are inmate counts from weekly jail reports presented to Canadian County Commissioners:

Jan. 11 report: 187 in Canadian County; 23 in other counties.
Jan. 4 report: 186 in Canadian County; 12 in other counties.
Dec. 28 report: 180 in Canadian County; 12 in other counties.
Dec. 21 report: 183 in Canadian County; 16 in other counties.
Dec. 14 report: 178 in Canadian County; 12 in other counties.
Dec. 7 report: 178 in Canadian County; 13 in other counties.
Nov. 30 report: 178 in Canadian County; 14 in other counties.
Nov. 23 report: 176 in Canadian County; 14 in other counties.
Nov. 16 report: 168 in Canadian County; 17 in other counties.
Nov. 9 report: 148 in Canadian County; 41 in other counties.
Nov. 2 report: 175 in Canadian County; 31 in other counties.
Oct. 26 report: 176 in Canadian County; 29 in other counties.
Oct. 19 report: 170 in Canadian County; 29 in other counties.
Oct. 12 report: 182 in Canadian County; 25 in other counties.

The Canadian County Jail houses both pre-trial detainees and formally sentenced offenders, who are required to serve their time in the county jail and state Department of Corrections. The facility has 35 full-time detention officers and deputies.