Even though facility is closed, state will make lease payments  into 2017

The state of California may be broke, but it is going to commit itself to paying nearly $10 million in lease payments over the next 5 years for a facility it has no plans to use -- the now-closed Taft Correctional Facility.
The Taft City Council approved a series of contract amendments with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at a brief special meeting Tuesday night that will continue lease payments for the CCF into 2017.
It was closed earlier this month when the CDCR removed the low security inmates as part of a state prison realignment.
The money won't be going into the city's general fund, however. It will be used to pay off a bond debt that financed construction of the facility, which once housed nearly 500 inmates and provided jobs to nearly 50 people.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Linder said the amended contract protects Taft's taxpayers from getting stuck paying off  the $9.558 million bond debt.
City Manager Bob Gorson said the state apparently doesn't mind leasing a building it won't use.
“I guess its an insignificant amount of money to them,” Gorson said.
Once the new deal is finalized, it will free up money owed to the city for operating the facility and hosing state inmates.
Gorson said the state is several months behind in paying off the city, but will be sending a check for more than $1.7 million to the city. That will get the state up to date in payments owed the city for housing state inmates.
In the meantime, the city is still looking for inmates from other counties to fill the now-empty CCF.
Linder asked for an update on the search at the next council meeting.