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April 26, 2013

IRS completes jail bond issue review

NORMAN — The Internal Revenue Service has determined $52 million in bonds used to build the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center qualifies as tax exempt.

In a letter dated April 18, Allyson Belsome, manager of Tax Exempt Bonds Field Operations for the IRS, notified the Cleveland County Justice Authority that despite some minor housekeeping changes regarding bond yield calculations, the IRS was closing the examination with “no change to the position that interest received by the beneficial owners of the Bonds is excludable from gross income.”

“In its ‘No Change Determination,’ the Service found that even though the total cost for construction, furniture, fixtures and equipment was less than originally estimated, the Authority took no improper actions,” said Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham. “We now have a modern, well-equipped, efficient county jail that came in well below budget. The County has retired $13 million of the bond debt, years ahead of schedule, and could terminate the tax well before its 20 year term.”

The new detention center has been housing record numbers of inmates in the past few weeks. Monday, Undersheriff Rhett Burnett reported to the Board of County Commissioners that 426 prisoners were being housed at the new facility. That number sets a new record and is up two heads from the count the previous week.

Nearly a third of the inmates housed at the jail are Department of Corrections prisoners, most of which have received judgment and sentencing and are waiting transport to state facilities.

In the meantime, the state pays $27 per day per prisoner to Cleveland County for housing the DOC bound inmates. Sheriff Joe Lester said actual costs are double that figure. Municipalities throughout the county by $45 per day per prisoner housed at the county jail. That number is expected to increase soon, Lester said earlier this year.

Meanwhile, staffing to open all of the available jail pods has been a challenge. The Sheriff’s Office continues to look for employees to fully staff the new facility as the population of prisoners rises.

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