Crawford County, Ark., Judge John Hall said the county should know how much it will cost to build a new jail and where to build it in time for a March 2013 election on potential funding sources.

The county has been ordered by a state judicial committee to make progress in resolving jail overcrowding problems by November or face closure. The jail in Van Buren is designed for 84 inmates but frequently holds more than 100.

Sheriff Ron Brown has proposed a $25 million plan to expand the existing facility to hold up to 300 prisoners by adding one to two floors. The project would be financed with bonds supported by a proposed 0.75% sales tax increase.

Van Buren officials oppose a larger jail at the existing site in the city’s historic district. The existing jail could be remodeled as administrative offices with a new jail at a different location, Brown said.

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