Oklahoma County voters may be asked in March to approve a tax increase for a bond issue to finance a new detention center in downtown Oklahoma City, which is expected to cost $350 million.

County engineer Stacey Trumbo said voters would decide on a 10-year, 0.5% sales tax hike to support debt for the project. Trumbo chairs the committee planning the new facility.

Development of the ballot language is underway, he said last week.

An adult detention center would cost about $290 million, Commissioner Ray Vaughn said. Other expenses include a new juvenile center and site acquisition.

If the bond proposal is approved, Vaughn said, the county would purchase a 60- to 80-acre site.

Oklahoma County wants to build a one-story complex with capacity of 2,800 inmates to replace its 13-story detention center built in 1991. The U.S. Justice Department criticized the current facility’s management and operations in a 2007 report.

The county hired a development consultant in March to design a facility, suggest a site, and develop a financial package to be put before voters.

Final recommendations on the design are expected later this month.

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