The Jefferson County Council Tuesday evening approved earnest money for a proposed jail site. At the same meeting the council was given an estimated $38 million capital cost pricetag by consultants working on financial plans for a new jail.

The county’s financial counsel used numbers for a 300-bed project, the size recommended by RQAW, the jail consultants. The estimated $38 million for capital costs — which includes the estimated cost for the land on J.A. Berry Lane — was the first time this number has been provided.

“The county doesn’t bring in enough money to pay for the jail now,” said Andrew Lanam, CPA and first vice president with George K. Baum and Company. Lanam has been working with the county to complete a financial analysis for the jail project.

“Nobody is funding jails with property taxes anymore — it just doesn’t happen,” said Lanam. “So, your option is income taxes.”

The $25,000 earnest money for the site on J.A. Berry Lane will allow commissioners and the county’s legal counsel to begin site assessments and negotiations with Tony Hammock, the land owner.

The options presented Thursday were based on the assumption the county would purchase 50 of the site’s 80 acres from Hammock. Hammock gave the county a price of $8,000 per acre if 50 is purchased. That would be a total cost of $400,000.

Details in The Madison Courier edition Thursday.