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Supervisors learn cost of new jail

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Supervisors learn cost of new jail

After an initial assessment in October last year, the Samuels Group has completed the second phase of its jail study and estimated a new jail could exceed $17 million. The current Page County Jail in Clarinda was built in 1936, with the Sheriff’s Office being added in the 1970s.

After completing the second phase of its jail study, officials with Samuels Group informed the Page County Board of Supervisors May 10 a new jail could exceed $17 million.

Greg Wilde of Samuels Group met in-person with the board Tuesday to review the findings of the study. Samuels Group President Sid Samuels also attended electronically.

The current Page County Jail was built in 1936 and the Page County Sheriff’s Office was added to the facility in the 1970s. Samuels Group presented its initial assessment of the jail to the board in October of 2021.

Briefly reviewing that report, Wilde said the examination of the jail revealed challenges in the ability of staff to properly segregate inmates. Structural concerns were found along with a year around threat of mold developing in the jail.

Wilde also said exposed electrical conduits are present and several of the cells are not usable due to their condition. As a result of the physical layout of the jail and its construction, Wilde said the facility no longer meets the needs of the county or state jail standards.

Therefore, based on its needs and space planning research, the Samuels Group recommended a new county jail have the capacity to hold 35 inmates. Wilde said it would require approximately 6,300 gross square feet to address the jail housing needs.

An additional 6,047 gross square feet would be needed for general jail services. Locating the Page County Sheriff’s Department would then increase the size of the new facility by 5,394 square feet.

Wilde said the cost of building the new jail with the jail support and space to house the Sheriff’s Department would cost $12,582,670.

However, options were also requested from Samuels Group for the costs of expanding the law enforcement center to contain other related services. This would include the county dispatcher center and an office for the Page County Emergency Management Director.

Wilde said adding these related county costs would increase the cost of the new jail facility to $15,203,464.

Finally, the city of Clarinda has also approached Page County about including space to house the Clarinda Police Department at the facility. Wilde said it would cost just shy of $2 million to incorporate the Clarinda Police Department into the law enforce-

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ment center, thus bringing the final cost of the jail to $17,191,619.14.

If all of these features were included in the law enforcement center, Wilde said the total space for the interior of the facility would measure 26,294.9 square feet. An additional 27,583.6 square feet of exterior space would also be required.

Supervisor Chuck Morris asked how much land the county would need to construct the complete jail with all of those features included.

“At this point we have not placed it on a plot to determine the overall (size). But I’m guessing you’re in that five to, probably, eight acres of land that would be suitable for your facility, parking and then any potential growth that might happen in the future,” Samuels said.

In the third phase of the project, Samuels said his company would be able to determine the number of acres required more accurately.

“There is no land acquisition cost in any of these just because it’s so unknown. We would hope, that if you determine to move forward, we would start looking at site options and begin to analyze what might work, what those cots would look like and how best to address that,” Wilde said.

After outlining the size and cost estimates of the new jail and law enforcement center, Wilde turned the discussion to the tax impact of construction such a facility. He said Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen had gathered information on the potential tax impact the passage of a $12.5 million, $15.2 million or $17.5 million General Obligation bond to be repaid over 20 years would have on the county.

Using the $15.2 million bond, Wilde said $1.35 per $1,000 of taxable valuation would be added to a person’s tax bill.

Wilde said Samuels Group then compared the tax impact to what a home owner would pay if they purchased a home at the median value of just over $89,000 in Page County. A home in Clarinda is currently for sale and matches that value.

Wilde said the passage of the $15.2 million bond issue would add $65.82 per year, or $5.48 per month, to the property taxes of that home.

“The tax impact is something we take seriously. It’s a huge part of determining if a project is feasible, is it reasonable and can taxpayers understand and help in terms of supporting that particular effort,” Wilde said.

After receiving the report on the second phase of the jail assessment, the board discussed the next potential step in the project. That would involve developing the schematic design of the facility.

Samuels said the third phase of the project would cost Page County $25,000 and would take approximately four months to complete

“At the end of that we would have a completed plan that shows the options that were considered and how we got to the final determination of here’s what we suggest moving forward, and the estimated cost and all that includes,” Samuels said.

Therefore, Samuels said the county would be looking at putting a potential bond issue before the voters in March 2023.

A decision on having the Samuels Group proceed with the third phase of the project will be made at a future meeting.

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