Last week, Willacy County Commissioners approved an additional $50.1 million in revenue bonds to expand the notorious MTC Tent City detention center. According to the Valley Morning News, the detention center, a series of tent-like structures made of windowless Kevlar pods that already has capacity to hold 2,000 ICE detainees, will expand by 1,000 beds.
The added debt will now mean that Willacy County must pay back $54.8 million to bond holders by September 2010 and another $56.6 million by 2028. The money brought in to the prison through the federal contract to hold the immigrant detainees is supposed to raise the capital to pay back the debt, while the private prison company (in this case MTC) takes a cut of the income as it goes.
As Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer blog writes, that is a staggering $8,700 debt per resident of Willacy County, a county with a population of 20,082 and a prison capacity of 4,600.
The new bond deal led Commissioner Aurelio Guerra this week to question a “fixed annual fee” of $27.4 million that will be paid to MTC if the average monthly inmate count falls below 2,500 inmates.