/ Modified jan 24, 2020 4:50 p.m.

Town of Florence assessing impact of possible prison closure

About 10% of the town budget is tied to the Florence State Prison.

After announcing plans to close the Florence State Prison in his State of the State address, Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed executive budget calls for $33 million to cover the costs of moving forward. The governor said shuttering the prison would save the state $274 million, over three years, that would otherwise go toward facility maintenance and upgrades.

The initial announcement came as a surprise to Florence officials, who now hope to have a seat at the table in ensuing discussions. Spokesman Ben Bitter discussed the prison’s economic impact on the town and potential consequences should it close.

Since inmates are counted as part of the town’s population, Florence receives about $400 per inmate through state shared revenue. With the possible relocation of more than 3,500 inmates, the town anticipates a $1.3 million loss in state shared revenue that would account for about 10% of its annual budget.

“We certainly would have to tighten the belts and figure out the best way to maximize the efficiencies within our operations and do all we can to ensure our public is not harmed,” Bitter said.

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