County supervisors are indicating they may delay a decision on which of three proposed jail expansion options they will choose.

Sheriff Toby Trowbridge says supervisors need to reach a consensus soon because there are pressing needs.

Trowbridge said the jail stays close to capacity now, and that he expects the inmate population to grow over the next 15 years if population trends continue.

A jail administration building built in1991 is deteriorating because of leaks and other problems and needs to be torn down, Trowbridge said.

The three options presented to supervisors last week were:

• A renovation of the existing jail building, the addition of one new housing "pod" of 144 beds, and the addition of a new kitchen and laundry facility. Total bed count would be increased by 144. This option would cost $16.7 million.

• The demolition of the existing jail, the construction of a new jail facility, and the construction of two new housing pods. Total bed count would be increased by 118. This option would cost $17.8 million.

• The components of the second option, plus two trustee dorms for inmates with a total of 60 beds. With a 178-bed increase, this $20.6 million option represents the largest expansion option in terms of inmate housing.

As a separate option, officials also presented the option of constructing a 30-bed, 18,200-square-foot juvenile justice facility on the same property, at a cost of $3.8 million.

The county does not currently have a juvenile facility and must transport detainees to other counties.

Board President and District 3 Supervisor Andy Taggart believes the current board needs to "step up and do something" before its term expires at the end of the year.

But District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin thinks that a final decision should be put off until a new board takes office. "This board is on its last legs," he said.

Both Taggart and Griffin expressed concern about how to finance the project, given the county's $50 million obligation to road improvements, among other things.

Supervisors would be unwise to delay a decision on the jail until 2008. It's in the best interest of the county to decide now.