West Virginia's Regional Jail Authority decided this week that it's a little bit short of the cash it needs to complete its current construction program. About $68 million short, to be exact, and if the legislature agrees to up the amount this group can borrow without asking some tough questions, taxpayers should raise Cain about it.
The authority has already received the okay to borrow $80 million, but deputy director Frank Shumaker told a legislative oversight committee that it needed the okay for another $20 million.
And why was that? Because, Shumaker told lawmakers at a Monday meeting, the cost of projects the legislature approved last year has soared. In some cases, the estimates have doubled. For example, the proposed cost for the Eastern Regional Jail in Berkeley County has jumped from $7.8 million to $13 million. But, he said, another $20 million would get the job done.
That estimate was good for about an hour, when the jail authority met again and said that even with the $20 million in extra borrowing power, the projects would still be $47.7 million short of the funding needed to complete them. As of Monday, the authority's members were undecided about how to present their case to the legislature.