Sheriff's Office will 'likely withdraw' appeal for jail expansion funds; incomplete grant application delays funding opportunity to next fiscal year

After Humboldt County's $19 million grant proposal for a jail expansion project was denied by the state in December, the Sheriff's Office had planned to appeal the decision -- until Thursday.

Sheriff Mike Downey said that the office will "likely withdraw" its request before the appeals hearing scheduled for March 11 in Sacramento.

"We have since received additional information," Downey said. "Basically, the county provided inadequate information on the application that wasn't specific enough to meet the state's preference threshold."

The Board of Supervisors had approved sending the grant application to the California Board of State and Community Corrections in October to obtain funding for a multi-story, minimum security housing facility for the county jail. The new facility would contain 40 new beds, additional space for drug and alcohol programs and house a community corrections resource center.

"It's not just a jail expansion," 1st District Supervisor and Board Chairman Rex Bohn said. "It's a full service of programs with other departments so that when people get out of jail, they are ready and have more access to services."

Competing with 15 other small counties in the state, the request was denied after the California Department of Finance gave Humboldt County a zero preference score, stating the proposal did not set aside funds for the proposed project and failed to complete an environmental impact review. Humboldt County ended up ranking eighth, but funding was only approved for the top six counties. If the proposal had been accepted, the county would be eligible for up to $19 million in funds under state Senate Bill 1022.

Undersheriff William Honsal said that Humboldt would have been one of three counties -- the others being Monterey and Stanislaus -- appealing the decision next Tuesday.

"The denial had to do with the county supposedly not designating money for the project," Honsal said. "Basically, we had to match the funding with about $398,000. We believe we had it, and there is some debate on that."

Downey said that the errors made in this year's grant application "will be rectified on the next go around."

"There will be more funding available to the county on the next budget cycle," he said.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or whouston@times-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter.com/Will_S_Houston.

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