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Old county jail sale in lockdown until January
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners decided to postpone a vote on the sale of the old county jail until new commissioners come on board in January.

The move will provide a brief respite for Gainesville officials, who are opposed to the jail in the midtown area of the city.

At Thursday's board meeting, Hall County Administrator Charley Nix asked for additional time to work through details.

"I want to understand what our options really are," Nix said. "We need to understand the contract and those types of things with the CCA (Correction Corporation of America). I think we should get to the place where we have a formal recommendation, perhaps by the next board meeting."

On Monday, Commissioner Billy Powell proposed selling the facility, which now houses Correction Corporation of America's North Georgia Detention Center, to help boost county coffers.

Nix supports the idea, but said he needs more time to review the contract with Correction Corporation of America and plans to talk with the warden soon.

After a contract to sell the jail to the city of Gainesville failed in 2009, the facility was appraised for $25 million and the county signed a 20-year lease with Correction Corporation of America for $2 million per year.

Commissioner Steve Gailey suggested waiting until the beginning of the year before putting the building up for sale.

Powell said Thursday he would at least like to hear more information by the November board meeting.

"I think what we're doing is looking at the interest out there, what numbers are available," said Chairman Tom Oliver. "This is just an idea that's presented itself. Now we've got to find out who's got the interest."

Commissioner Ashley Bell, who represents the city of Gainesville, said he would like to consider selling the facility to the city.

"Selling the jail will be a short term benefit," Bell said. "The last thing we want to do is be short-sighted and lock the city into having a jail downtown."

He said while the county is still receiving revenue through its lease with Correction Corporation of America, it should give the city time to collect the money to purchase the facility.

"The original proposal was to sell the jail to Gainesville for $4 million," Bell said. "The county going back on their work is an example of promises and overtures we've made to our cities that we haven't lived up to."

Corrections Corporation of America uses the old jail to hold immigration detainees for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The detainees awaiting deportation proceedings come from Hall County as well as other parts of the state and country.

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