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Last updated 9:27PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
$17M La Plata Jail Project Gets Green Light
(2007-05-01)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: The La Plata County Board of County Commissioners has given the go ahead to what's been described as the biggest capital improvement project in the county's history.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

DISTEL: THE CURRENT TOTAL PROJECT PRICE WHICH WOULD INCLUDE THE DESIGN, ALL THE SOFT COSTS AND ALL THE CONSTRUCTION COSTS IS ABOUT 17 MILLION DOLLARS.
VICTOR: La Plata County Finance Director Karla Distel told the board of county commissioners, that 17-million dollars will buy an 84-bed maximum security expansion at the La Plata County Jail, in Bodo Park.
Planning for the new jail has been underway for more than a year after a consultant reviewed the present facility and recommended the addition.
Distel says the county will pay cash for the expansion, taking the money from an estimated 30-million dollars in cash reserves the county has on hand.
That will be less expensive than borrowing money or financing the new jail wing.
DISTEL: IF YOU WERE TO BORROW 17-MILLION DOLLARS YOU WOULD PROBABLY SPEND TEN MILLION IN FINANCE CHARGES OVER THE PERIOD, THE LIFE OF THE JAIL. BY USING CASH YOU CERTAINLY WON'T INCUR THOSE SO IT CERTAINLY REDUCES THE LONG TERM COSTS.
Financing the jail expansion would have also required a vote of La Plata County citizens, which now won't be required.
Distel cautioned building the jail with cash will draw down county reserves to 13-million dollars.
That's still enough though, she says, to run the county in a major funding shortfall, but tight and says that could put a squeeze on the 2008 budget.
Jail Administrative Sargent Bill Holmes says the addition will give them some breathing room in prisoner populations which have been rising steadily.
HOLMES: OUR PRESENT CAPACITY IS 194, A JAIL IS CONSIDERED FULL ANYTIME YOU'RE AT 75-PERCENT OCCUPANCY.
RIGHT NOW AT 194 BEDS WE'RE ACTUALLY FULL AT ABOUT 150 AND WE'RE AVERAGING 175.
The new beds and the end of double bunking in small cells will put the capacity of the jail at 250 prisoners.
County Construction Manager Blaine Montgomery says they plan to start construction this summer.
MONTGOMERY: WE ANTICIPATE BREAKING GROUND EARLY TO MID JULY OF THIS YEAR, 2007, AND ANTICIPATED COMPLETION IS LATE NOVEMBER OF 2008.
The completed expansion will require ten new personnel in the sheriff's department.
Their salaries plus the cost of utilities, maintenance and repair at the new facility are estimated at about 1.2-million dollars per year.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to okay the jail expansion, which commissioner Joelle Riddle says she hopes will be the last.
RIDDLE: I JUST HOPE THAT WE AS A COMMUNITY CAN WORK ON OTHER THINGS THAT WILL PREVENT THE NEED FOR ANY FURTHER INCREASE IN OUR JAIL FACILITIES, SO THAT WE CAN DO EVERYTHING ON THE OTHER END, SUCH AS IN MY OPINION PROVIDING CHILD CARE, AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HEALTH CARE AND ALL OF THE THINGS THAT FEED INTO A QUALITY OF LIFE THAT WE'LL HOPEFULLY RAISE THE BAR ON AND MAINTAIN HERE IN LA PLATA COUNTY.
The county has also been in the process of planning a new Human Services Building on property purchased in Bodo Park.
The decision to pay cash for the jail expansion increases the liklihood the Human Services Building, which has been estimated at about 10-million dollars, would be financed if and when it is built.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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