Opinion

Abandoned jail project costs strapped Detroit taxpayers $1.2 million each month

The construction site for a Detroit prison, deemed too expensive to complete, is now costing local taxpayers over $1.2 million per month.

The unfinished project currently sits empty, leaving taxpayers on the hook for monthly debt servicing, maintenance fees, security, and utilities. The hefty price tag added to an already bloated construction budget, resulting in few options for the government.

The Wayne County Jail was estimated to cost roughly $300 million dollars, but costs quickly skyrocketed forcing county officials to suspend the project and launch an investigation. Former Wayne County Chief Financial Officer Carla Sledge, attorney Steven Collins, and construction manager Anthony Parlovecchio have all been arrested in connection to the over budget project.

Despite being on the edge of bankruptcy, and paying over $1 million each month for debt servicing on this one project alone, officials have demonstrated no interest in selling the building. Almost half a dozen parties have expressed interest in purchasing the building, but so far no offers have been accepted.

It’s hard to imagine a reason for any cash-strapped municipality to hold on to such an expensive piece of useless property. The cost to taxpayers and the ever looming threat of future financial woes should be an obvious reason to dump the property and regroup, according to Rose Bogaert, head of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association.

“At this point, the only thing we should do is cut our losses. If someone is willing to purchase it, we should sell it.” She told Fox News. “Everyone knows that these projects never stay within budget, and this one was in a bad location to begin with.”

But rather than sell the expensive boondoggle, county officials plan on keeping it until their financial situation improves. “Due to the county’s financial state, anything done on the jail will just add to the deficit,” Lloyd Jackson, a spokesman for Wayne County Executive, told the Detroit Free Press. “As the county makes progress on its recovery plan, it will better be able to solve the jail issue.”

Does the recovery plan include cutting unnecessary costs, such as unfinished construction sites that costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year?

Of course Motor City isn’t exactly known for making the wisest financial decisions. Emerging from bankruptcy, Detroit continues to struggle with routine costs across the board. Over $1.2 million each month, for a project that was already more than $100 million over budget, is merely an example of the government corruption and over spending that has plagued the area for decades.

Michael Schaus

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