homepage logo

Weber County $98M jail bond proposal headed to defeat

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 21, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The outside of the Weber County Sheriff's Office is pictured Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.

OGDEN — The ballot question calling for a multimillion-dollar expansion of the Weber County Jail and construction of a new Weber County Sheriff’s Office building is headed to defeat.

The ballot question calling for bonding of up to $98 million for the proposal was generating solid opposition from Weber County voters, according to the votes tallied as of Tuesday night. The split was 57.6% of voters against and 42.4% for the proposal, or 20,042 no votes and 14,771 yes votes.

Sheriff Ryan Arbon had pushed for the proposal, notably to augment the medical and mental health facilities in the jail. The shortcomings in inmate care don’t go away with the apparent no vote and he said he’d now weigh different approaches to address the issues.

“We still have the problems. We’ve got to find other ways to address them,” he said. “It’s a heavy lift.”

Pursuing another bond proposal could be an option, but Arbon said he and others who have been involved in the initiative would look at the options. The figures released Tuesday night represent about 86% of all ballots cast in Weber County, according to Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch, with the rest, by and large, to be counted on Wednesday.

Meantime, Arbon offered thanks to those who backed the proposal, including family members of inmates, medical and mental health professionals and others. His message to them is that “we have more work to do and we look forward to their continued support,” he said.

Tax hikes can generate strong sentiments from some, and the jail bonding, if approved, would have required a property tax hike that would boost taxes on a home worth $468,000, the average in Weber County, by $54.09 a year.

The plans outlined in the bond proposal — in the works for the last three-and-a-half to four years — had called for the addition of a 48-bed section for inmates with mental health and medical issues. As is, there are now just six medical cells.

At the same time, a new four-story facility, the Weber Justice Center, was to be built on county-owned land on the southwest corner of 12th Street and Depot Drive, north of the existing sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s office administrative and investigative functions would have moved to the new building. It would also have contained a minimum-security facility for inmates in the work-release program and space for social workers from a range of agencies who would help inmates prepare for release from jail and reentry into society.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)