Problems of the Fail Jail Site


The proposal to invest $1 billion in a Major League Soccer franchise and stadium in downtown Detroit is far from a done deal. Investors still must clear some hurdles to get the project going. Among them are:

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans

Evans said any plan to build a jail elsewhere would have have to cost taxpayers no more than what it would cost to finish construction at the Gratiot site, which the county has previously targeted at $175 million.

Wayne County Commissioners 

Commissioner Ilona Varga, D-Lincoln Park, said the only way she could support such a proposal is if the county could recoup past investments, including the millions spent to buy and clean up the Gratiot site, and the additional costs are covered

County Commission Chair Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn, said “My initial reaction is find somewhere else,” Woronchak told the Free Press Wednesday. “No amount of public pressure is going to lose more money for taxpayers than they’ve already lost on the jail.”

The IRS

The  Internal Revenue Service is auditing the 2010 bonds being used to build the stalled jail facility, according to a credit rating agency. The IRS is examining bonds issued for the jail’s construction because of information “that causes a concern that the debt issuance may fail one or more provisions” of the Internal Revenue Code, according to Moody’s Investors Service.  Moody’s said last year the county could be forced to repay $37 million of the subsidies it has already received and could lose $41 million of the subsidies over the next five years. Wayne County officials said Wednesday the IRS is still reviewing the audit.

Tax weary constituents

Taxes in Wayne County have been the subject of angst for many residents. Thousands of residents have lost their homes to tax foreclosure over the past few years. And this summer property owners will see a one-time property tax assessment to cover the cost of a court judgment in a pension case related to the 13th check, an extra check for county retirees. In addition, residents will likely be asked to support a new millage this fall to support regional-wide rapid transit. These taxpayers are represented by the County Commission. Discussion of tax payers potentially losing dollars already invested in the jail site could cause pause for commissioners.

SourceDetroit Free Press