BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — The ball is rolling in Boone County as officials map out the next phase to expand the justice center.

“It’s important to make sure that we focus on rehabilitation and not incarceration,” said Sheriff Mike Nielsen.

Along with 102 additional beds, Nielsen said the emphasis is on support and resources. A big portion of the expansion, he said, will address more space and tools to help services, like community corrections and probation.

Recently, the Boone County Council approved the proposal of a 0.2% local income tax increase to help pay for the project, which totals out to $59.1 million.

Commissioner Tom Santelli said the increase will be noticeable to taxpayers in January 2023.

“If you make $70,000 a year, it’s $5.83 per pay if you get paid twice a month,” Santelli said.

With the project years in the making, commissioners and Sheriff Nielsen have been vocal about the concerns of rising costs and the impact on the project’s plans, especially as inflation continues.

“By passing the LIT, we’re able to lock in steel packages and all the other packages at a fixed cost,” Santelli said.

“Every month that we waited, we feel like it’s cost about $10 million to the taxpayers at this point, by the delays that have occurred,” Nielsen said, “but again, we’re not looking back, we’re looking forward, and we’re ready to get this project moving.”

Nielsen said they are meeting every week to discuss the project’s design and fine tune areas as needed. He expects it to take about 24 months to build.

“I think sometime at the end of August or so, we’ll have a complete set of designs that should not change,” he said.

A public hearing is set for July 5 at 9 a.m. at the county annex building. That’s where commissioners are expected to finalize the Build-Operate-Transfer, or BOT, contract with GM Development.

Santelli said they’ll likely start to issue bonds in October.