FARMINGTON -- Farmington City officials feel blindsided by the prospect of Station Park getting 400 new neighbors as Davis County officials consider adding that many jail beds to its Criminal Justice Complex.
City leaders said Wednesday they are looking for an apology from the county and want future input on the matter.
"We had no prior knowledge. None. Zero," City Manager Dave Millheim said of the resolution the Davis County Commission unanimously adopted Tuesday in committing to the construction of 400 new jail beds for use by the Utah State Prison system.
The resolution is in response to the state considering closing the Utah State Prison in Draper and relocating its inmates to other locations to possibly save tax dollars and redevelop the prison site into a commercial property that can generate additional tax revenue.
In Davis County, the proposed jail addition would be built on the back side of the existing jail complex at 800 W. State St. in Farmington.
But Farmington leaders oppose the idea and want the commission to rescind its resolution in offering its residents a public apology.
County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said the resolution adopted by the commission has already been sent on to the Utah Association of Counties, and cannot be rescinded, while the comments he is making to the Standard-Examiner will have to suffice as his public apology.
"We are not there to not be good partners with Farmington City. This was just an oversight not letting them know ahead of time, and I will take responsibility for that," Petroff said of the resolution.
One thing the commission was adamant about in its resolution was that any jail expansion would have to obtain "appropriate approvals" from the local jurisdiction, which in this case is Farmington City, Petroff said. "They still have complete control."
But Farmington leaders feel disrespected.
"We are extremely disappointed, and borderline angry at the county's lack of respect for local impacts," Millheim said.
The council and mayor are united in opposing any jail expansion, and city leaders will likely hold a special council meeting Oct. 22 to pass some stern resolutions and give staff direction in how to "stop this ill-conceived expansion plan" that adds 31 percent more jail beds to the county complex, Millheim said.
The county jail currently has 896 beds, including the minimum security Davis Work Center.
The city will cancel its Oct. 22 meeting on the condition the commission rescind its Oct. 15 resolution and publicly apologize to Farmington leaders and residents for the miscommunication, Millheim said.
"Someone was asleep at the county," Millheim said, and Farmington residents deserve better than that. "We hope they will realize they made a mistake, and that we can get back on a level playing field," he said.
Working in Farmington's favor is a 2002 interlocal agreement between the city and county that says the county jail will not expand without the issue being "mutually addressed" by both entities.
The city does not hold any ill will toward jails, Millheim said. It just does not want the existing jail expanded, he said.
Farmington Mayor Scott Harbertson said the city was never brought to the table to discuss the expansion, and he wasn't aware of the commission's resolution until contacted by the Standard-Examiner.
"I do not see the benefit to the county to increase the size of that facility," Harbertson said. He said the jail complex is the largest jail in the state located in an urban area.
City officials are now looking at state code to determine what authority the state has in placing a jail, and whether there is a mechanism the city can use to prevent the expansion from happening, Harbertson said.
Regarding the 2002 agreement between the county and city, capping the number of jail beds at 896, Harbertson said, even though the agreement says any jail expansion must be "mutually addressed", Commissioner Bret Millburn and Petroff both indicated they were unaware of the agreement prior to adopting the resolution.
Petroff said he was unaware of the interlocal agreement until it was brought to his attention by Farmington officials.
But there has always been discussion of a future jail expansion based on the county's growing population, Petroff said. "It has always been in the back of everyone's mind that there would be a need to expand the jail."
Petroff said there is also more involved with this particular effort than just Davis County and Farmington City.
The Weber County Commission took similar action on Tuesday, offering a proposal to add 400 beds as well to its 12th Street Jail complex.
The expansions would be built with state funds, with the county proposals requiring the state to pay $59 per bed per day for 400 beds year-round, over the course of 20 years, whether the beds are occupied or not.
But before any action is taken, the Prison Relocation and Development Authority will consider all available options with the Utah Department of Corrections, including building a new state prison, adding prisoners to the Gunnison prisonj or rebuilding on the existing Draper site, said Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, a member of the authority board.
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.