County commissioners seek public input on new jail facility
After months of discussion about Grand County’s facility needs and financing upgrades, the Grand County Board of Commissioners will present information on their plan for a new public safety facility on Monday night.
The board had previously identified around $55 million in facility needs, but because of limited resources has decided to prioritize the public safety facility, said County Commissioner Rich Cimino.
“We had to delay addressing the EMS, public health and human services facilities so that we could get the jail,” Cimino said. “We’ve been spending tens of hundreds or thousands of dollars on various repairs. … The facility is just not safe.”
On Monday, Grand County residents are invited to engage with the commissioners, provide feedback and ask questions at 6 p.m. at the commissioner’s meeting room in the Grand County Administration Building.
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Cimino said Monday’s meeting will serve two purposes, including to inform the public on the details of the plan and why it’s necessary, as well as to get public feedback on a potential sales tax increase.
Cimino expects the conversation to include the financing of the project, which the county estimates will cost around $28.5 million. He added the commissioners plan to finance it in part through certificates of participation, a type of lease-financing agreement.
The county is also proposing a .2% sales tax increase for the 2020 ballot to help pay for the project. The sales tax would then sunset in 20 years after the public safety facility has been paid off.
“That decision will probably be made final Monday night,” he said. “We may hear from the public on Monday and decide not to ask this question at all.”
Aside from financing the new public safety facility, Cimino said, the county would like to use some of the sales tax money raised to support new mental health services.
“Basically our sheriff’s department is the ultimate safety net when it comes to behavioral and mental health, so if some funds that support the public safety facility go toward preventative services than the burden on our sheriff should be reduced,” he explained.
Built in 1983, the public safety facility isn’t particularly old, but it is failing and poorly built, Cimino said. Last year, an electrical failure caused a fire in the building.
The new public safety facility would not only address some of the safety concerns, but also expand the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and the Grand County Jail to better serve the needs of the county.
“This new building should have improved capacity should the population in Grand County continue to grow,” Cimino said.
Originally, the county was considering a larger design for the new public safety building, but at almost $33 million, the commissioners decided to pare back in the hopes of providing a sufficient, but not overly expensive facility.
The county also considered refurbishing the existing public safety facility, but it was determined that would be costlier than building a completely new facility.
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