ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Plans for a new Stearns County Jail and Justice Center are moving forward.

Stearns County commissioners have agreed on a full build that will include 270 jail beds, sheriff's office, county attorney's office, judges' chambers, and 14 courtrooms.

Board Chair Tarryl Clark says the board came to a consensus on the full build which will actually cost less than if it were built in phases...

Part of it is the cost-effectiveness. If we build all of it at one time, even the few parts we're hoping not to use for a little bit. So, for example, part of a pod for the jail will cost our taxpayers significantly less than if we waited several years.

Clark says part of the higher costs would be transporting inmates to and from court...

It would be potentially $30-$40-million more to do parts of it. And, if the jail and court weren't next to each other, we'd be spending up to $2-million a year on transporting people from the jail to the courts and back every year. And that's levy. We can't use sales tax for that.

The county will be asking voters in November to approve a 3/8-cent sales tax to pay for the complex. If approved, the sales tax would raise up to $325-million.

Clark says the board will closely watch the bids as they come in and will scale back the project if they are too high.

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