Polk approves $283k contract to design a new jail/sheriff’s office

Published 11:31 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016


By Leah Justice


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The majority of the Polk County Board of Commissioners agreed this week to a contract with Moseley Architects for $283,282 for a schematic design and design development phases for a new detention and sheriff facility.

Commissioners met Monday, Feb. 22 and approved the contract by a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Ray Gasperson being the sole vote against the contract.

The county agreed to hire Moseley Architects to design a new jail and sheriff’s office in January, who the county also contracted with last year to conduct a feasibility study on a new jail.

Jana Berg, county attorney, said the contract is standard and includes the scope of work, including designing the facility and presenting it to the county.

The scope of work includes designing an initial 90-bed jail facility designed to expand to 100 beds, and a space for the sheriff’s office.

“A new jail facility of approximately 90 initial beds with a designed ‘jail core’ sized for 100 beds, and sheriff’s law enforcement space that may or may not include a(n) E911 Call Center of approximately 10,000-12,000 SF (square feet) will also be designed. The facility will be approximately $10,000,000 for site and building construction cost,” states the contract. “Preliminary site assessment of up to four sites for the facility will be provided as part of basic services.”

The contract states the total lump sum for the design services will be $797,950.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said what commissioners approved Monday were the first two phases of the project, which will get the county through July.

“So hopefully at that point we would be at the point of getting some financing,” said Pittman.

Commissioners approved budget amendments to pay for the contract with Moseley, including taking $283,282 out of the fund balance to pay for the services, as well as a resolution declaring the intent to reimburse expenditures for the Polk County Detention Center and Sheriff’s Office facility. The resolution makes it possible if the county chooses, to reimburse its fund balance the $283,282 when it receives financing for the project. The resolution to reimburse the county was approved unanimously.

Gasperson motioned to table signing the contract with Moseley until the county accomplished a few things. He said the item should be tabled until the property on which a new detention center and possibly a new sheriff’s office will be constructed can be acquired.

Also, Gasperson said the county should direct the county manager and finance office to provide commissioners with an in-depth analysis of the four financing options presented in a recent memo from the county manager that included financing through either the United States Department of Agriculture, a bank or commercial lender, limited obligation bonds or general obligation bonds.

“This analysis should explain the pros and cons of each type of financing and the projected impact on the county’s annual budget,” Gasperson said. Gasperson also said commissioners should direct the county manager to estimate the projected increase in the Polk County property tax rates needed to cover the cost of financing a new detention center/sheriff’s office along with the additional costs of increased personnel needed for the new detention center.

Gasperson’s motion failed for lack of a second.

Commissioner Michael Gage said the county definitely needs to move forward on this jail for the safety of this community. Gage added that the sheriff has done a great job utilizing what he has.

“We have been fighting jail inspectors for quite some time,” added commissioner Keith Holbert.

Holbert said the state could come in and condemn the jail and then the county wouldn’t have a choice.

Gasperson said his whole intent for tabling is to make sure the county takes the appropriate steps to make the impact on the taxpayers as minimal as possible, saying in the long run it could cost the county and taxpayers.

Commissioner chair Tom Pack said what Gasperson said, “sort of reminds me of the DSS building.”

Gasperson told the Bulletin following the meeting that the county’s decision Monday night could mean major tax increases for the county.

“Tonight the stage has been set for major tax increases in Polk County,” said Gasperson.