By Shereen Siewert

The Marathon County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending an additional $1.5 million to fix structural issues at the jail, adding to the $585,000 previously approved for the project.

The funds will be used to pay contractors to repair cracks and structural issues that have plagued the facility for years. A temporary fix is already underway after Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger declared the situation an emergency.

While the repairs are being completed, about 55 inmates are being housed at out-of-county facilities while 25 inmates are on home monitoring, said Marathon County Chief Deputy Chad Billeb.

Structural issues, including significant cracks in floors, were first detected about five years ago, Karger said, in a news conference earlier this month. At that time, the issues were not significant enough to require immediate attention. But a July 19 report revealed that significant snow loads and extreme temperatures intensified previously identified structural issues, which prompted the emergency declaration.

The money allocated for the jail’s repair will be paid with working capital reserves. The county will then borrow to backfill the working capital reserve account.

Board members initially declined to fully fund the project until additional information could be obtained. But Karger cautioned that a delay could result in a cost increase for additional inmate housing of about $325,000.

“We clearly have an emergency situation and a 5 month delay can only increase our risk to safety,” Karger’s memo states.

The vote on Tuesday was unanimous.