Proposed Local Prison Raises Financial Concern

City officials are facing financial troubles behind a new state prison slated for our area.

The Florida Department of Corrections plans to build a $70 million state prison near Live Oak.

The city of Live Oak will furnish water, sewer and reused water for the facility. A new 1.5 million gallon plant will be online in September.

Live Oak Mayor Sonny Nobles says, "The dilemma that we're in is that the prison will use up most or all of that sewer capacity that we had planned to have for the future."

The latest plant cost $14 million dollars.

If the prison is built, the city will have to build another sewage plant and that would cost another $10 to $14 million.

The Suwannee State Prison will eventually house about 40,000 inmates. Live Oak City officials expect that will produce 400 gallons of waste per minute.

"I'm not sure that our folks can afford it,” says Mayor Nobles. “We can't afford not to have it because of the prosperity it could help bring."

The prison should bring in approximately 600 jobs at $30 to $35,000 dollars a year.

Dennis Cason with the Suwannee Economic Alliance said, "Looking at about $21 million a year with a conservative multiplier of three, you're looking at over $60 million a year that would circulate back through our county."

Suwannee County Resident James Peek says of the news, "It's not great that we have to have more prisons, but if we have to have them, I guess, being in Suwannee County we need jobs here."

The city is seeking state and federal funding.

If the 2007 legislature approves funding, construction on the prison should start by next year.