County Executive John G. Gary has rejected proposals by three national companies to design, finance and build a 400-bed, minimum-security jail in Glen Burnie.
The executive still might hire one of the private companies to manage the jail once it is built, spokesman Larry Telford said.
"John's not afraid to privatize this and he's not afraid to let county employees run it," Mr. Telford said. "He's going to look at what's best. Certainly, cost is a factor."
Mr. Gary hopes to begin construction by March 1 using traditional public financing, which he believes is more economical, administration officials said yesterday. The county would use a $1.01 million design it commissioned from a Harrisburg, Pa., company last winter.
The $27 million jail could open by July 1, 1997, officials said. It would be on Ordnance Road between Curtis and Back creeks.
County purchasing agents are negotiating with two of the national companies -- U.S. Correctional Corp. of Louisville, Ky., and Correctional Partners Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. -- to operate the jail, Mr. Telford said.
He said the county will compare the companies' "best and final" offers with administration estimates for hiring additional public employees to operate the new jail.
Officials have estimated the cost of operating the new jail at $10 million to $14 million annually.
The third company to bid on the construction was Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America.
The jail is to house prisoners sentenced in Anne Arundel to 18 months or less and to work-release.
Prisoners awaiting trial and other court proceedings, and those considered escape risks or dangerous, would remain at the county's 28-year-old Detention Center in Annapolis.
The jail is expected to relieve crowding at the Detention Center on Jennifer Road.