The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors have approved a plan that will help move the North County Jail project forward.
"We are all systems go," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. "Today's decision by the board was a key milestone."
The goal is to have construction on the jail in Santa Maria to start in late 2015 and for it to be completed in 2018.
"The jail in the North County won't just be an asset to the North County," he said.
On any given day, around 1,000 inmates are housed at the main jail. Once the new jail opens, 400 will be transferred to ease crowding in Santa Barbara.
One of the topics for approval was the preliminary staffing plan. It includes positions for 124 people which includes around 75 custody deputies.
The first recruitment cycle will start in August 2015.
The big item on the table is operating costs. If the jail opens in 2018, it will cost $21.1 million a year to run.
As outlined in previous meetings, that money is being saved in a jail fund "piggy bank" from general fund growth, such as from property taxes and sales tax increases. Since fiscal year 2011-2012, the funding continues to be put aside incrementally every year to cover that cost.
In 2008, the county applied for the AB 900 grant to build an additional jail facility. In the first phase, Santa Barbara County was awarded $56.3 million. But came with the stipulation that the county would match 25 percent of that money.
Due to the recession, the county could not match that money and there was no solid plan for the yearly operating costs.
In 2012, AB 900 phase II the county was awarded $80 million after relinquishing the first phase grant. The county is responsible for a 10 percent match.
In Tuesday's board meeting, the sheriff laid of the plan for the design of the new jail.
The jail, which will be on the corner of Betteravia and Black Roads in Santa Maria, will have an aesthetically pleasing look. The plan is to have it blend it with the surrounding Mission-style buildings.
"Not give it the look and feel of that big concrete box," said the sheriff.
One of the items that was a hot topic among the public, was a possible project labor agreement. That was not voted on but it will come back to the board for discussion and a possible vote.