- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Tulsa County jail’s four new pods will cost about 70 percent more than the $9.5 million originally estimated, and officials are unsure of the best source for obtaining the $3.5 million needed to complete the project.

Officials are trying to decide whether to pay cash, thus fully depleting two years of sales-tax revenue, or to borrow the money and keep the cash for operating expenses, the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1W9s7vO ) reported.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office told the county Budget Board on Tuesday that it would prefer issuing bonds to draw out the process while it figures out the cost of the pods’ operation.

Other county officials weren’t convinced.

“It seems to me that cash is the way to go,” said John Smaligo, a county commissioner. “I have trouble borrowing when there is cash on hand.”

The issue has been raised as the budget board, which is composed of eight elected officials, struggles to finish a budget for the 2017 fiscal year beginning July 1. One of the largest obstacles is a jail operations deficit.

The jail has received a $1 million supplemental appropriation this budget year, and it’s expected to owe its medical provider $2.5 million by the end of June.

A 0.25 percent sales tax covers some but not all of the existing jail’s operating revenue. A second 0.041 percent tax that was passed in 2014 and generates about $1.7 million each year is supposed to cover the construction and operation of the four new pods.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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