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Marathon County officials look at costs to improve jail safety


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - Marathon County officials say they're ready to implement the jail study panel report on safety, but it could cost us.

County administrator Brad Karger says the panel glossed over the expected costs of the proposals, but they are going to be there. "Any tax increase is going to be modest. I think the public expects us to run a safe facility. The question then becomes 'are they willing to give up services on another end or raise their own taxes to fund this?'" He says the county will work to make any increases as small as possible.

County board chairman Gary Wyman is optimistic that the reforms can be put into place with a minimum of cost. "I think there's a lot of things the sheriff said can be done internally without spending a lot of money, to get morale going and make this a safer place for everybody."

Sheriff Scott Parks says his department is already hard at work implementing issues that were brought up in the panel's review of the jail over the last three months. "We've seen some empowerment in our staff to feed suggestions to staff and supervisors, and we've already implemented them." One of the primary concerns is staffing levels in the jail, and the sheriff's department is asking for two more jail officers to handle crowding inside the facility.

The panel released a 226 page report on the safety issues inside the jail at a press conference on Monday.