Polk moves forward with jail feasibility study

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Polk County should know its future jail needs soon as commissioners approved an $18,750 agreement for services with Moseley Architects.

Commissioners met Monday, May 4 and approved the agreement and budget amendment to pay for the study by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against the agreement and budget amendment.

Moseley’s scope of services includes to analyze historic detention center data provided by the county in five-year increments; to project county growth trends in five-year increments through 2038; to translate growth trends into space needs and develop conceptual bubble diagrams with each jail components. Moseley will also give the county four options and review and discuss the options with commissioners with option one being to evaluate renovation/expansion of the current jail; option two being to evaluate renovation/expansion of the sheriff’s office spaces; option three being to evaluate a new facility on a new site and option four being to evaluate a stand alone jail facility constructed adjacent to the current jail.

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Moseley also agrees to develop an estimate of probable costs for each option, to discuss possible off-setting operation expense options to include leasing available beds, to create an operation staffing plan for the chosen option and to prepare a report of findings.

Commissioners agreed during a February work session to hire Moseley Architects to conduct a study of the jail.

Gasperson said during the work session he had concerns the county was moving too quickly with Moseley. He said he realizes Moseley is very qualified but he wanted to interview the top two companies. Gasperson also said he is concerned about potential tax increases needed for a new a new jail as well as a potential increase in employees. Gasperson said he would vote to hire Moseley if the motion to approve was amended to indicate it is the intent of the board to not have a tax increase or an increase in employees.

Commissioner Keith Holbert, who made the motion to approve, said the motion is for Moseley to study jail needs and bring it back to commissioners so did not amend his motion. Other commissioners said issues such as costs and employees will be decided later.

The Polk County jail was constructed in the early 1970s.

A study of all Polk’s facilities in 2006 determined the sheriff’s office and jail had serious issues.

From 2012 until October 2014, Polk County spent almost $200,000 housing inmates in other counties because of being over capacity. Polk’s jail is not equipped to house female or juvenile inmates.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said he expects the study of the jail to begin soon and estimates the study to be completed in approximately three months.