Tuscola Co. Jail millage fails despite pleas from sheriff

Despite pleas from the county sheriff, voters voted "no" on the Tuscola County Jail millage.
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 4:46 PM EST
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TUSCOLA CO., Mich. (WNEM) - Despite pleas for help from its local sheriff’s office, Tuscola County has once again rejected a request for funding to upgrade its aging jail.

Fifty-four percent of voters chose no on the proposed millage to replace the 60-year-old facility.

“Well, you know, just because there was a no vote doesn’t mean the problem is going to go away. I mean it’s still going to be there and it’s going to get worse every year,” Tuscola County Sheriff Glen Skrent said.

Tuscola County voters rejected a millage that would have paid for a new facility.

“We asked for a bare-bones jail. It was a 120-bed facility and a half basement not unfinished for training. There weren’t any frills to it. So, I don’t see how we can go any lower,” Skrent said.

Skrent said the jail has numerous issues.

“The last couple of days they’ve had to have an air hammer in the basement trying to break up cement to find a leak that’s dripping onto the inmate records, which we have to keep for 100 years. And that’s been a constant problem, but that’s really one of the small issues,” Skrent said.

Skrent said there is a meager number of holding cells, just two. He said he needs 12. Space in the jail is limited and the sheriff said most of the building doesn’t have fire suppression in place.

“We’re going to have to get with the board and anticipate using money from general fund to fix the fire suppression,” Skrent said.

Skrent said a lot of the jail cells need new windows that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Skrent said he has shared those details extensively with the community.

“I’ve been sheriff six years now. And I have constantly put information on Facebook about problems with the jail,” Skrent said.

Along with putting studies on the Tuscola County website to reinforce the need for a new jail, Skrent admits he wasn’t optimistic about the millage passing on the first attempt. It failed by about a couple thousand votes.

Skrent is hopeful if the millage makes it to the ballot again, the results might be different.

“It didn’t fail miserably. It failed on a small level. And maybe someday, down the road, we could convince those folks to change their mind,” Skrent said.

For complete election results, click here.