Time To Talk About Proposed New County Facilities

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Over the next several editions of the Payson Roundup, I plan to share with you the "cut-to-the-chase" information and thinking that led the Gila County Facilities Planning Citizens Advisory Committee -- hereafter just called "Committee" -- to make the recommendations to the Board of Supervisors that they did. I will explore with you what the recommendations are, what they mean, what impacts they will have and so on.

I will present you with the facts as I know them and am happy to answer any questions you may have. If I can't give you an answer, I'll find someone who can. If what I say is too confusing, tell me. I'll find another way of presenting the information. If you think I'm just "pulling the wool over your eyes," tell me. I sure don't mean to be. If you belong to a group I could come visit with or you'd just like more information, call me at (928) 474-7100.

This issue is of the utmost importance to and will be paid for by us, the citizens of this county. The decisions we make about it deserve to be made on the merits of the solutions presented and not on the catchiness of a sound bite.

So, here goes. The facilities committee was charged with taking an in-depth look at the situation and the facilities we currently have. They were asked to explore available solutions, including ways to pay for those solutions. They were told that both time and cost effectiveness were of the essence.

At the end of an intense four months, the committee made a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which they called "Option 1," that was based upon eight Consensus Agreements developed in the nine public meetings they held between Jan. 18 and May 14, 2007. (For the record, four meetings were held in Payson, three in Globe, one in Roosevelt and one at the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde. Also for the record, of the 13 folks who were members of this committee, seven lived in the northern end of the county and six lived in the southern end.)

The first of the Consensus Agreements is the foundation for all the other Agreements and Option 1. It says, "The committee unanimously agrees that Gila County needs new jail, court and administration facilities. These facilities should be designed and built to accommodate growth to the year 2027, and be completed as soon as the requisite funding is available."

The other Agreements dealt with leasing potential excess bed space in the proposed new jails to defray expenses; building on the existing north and south county "campuses"; providing public meeting space; bringing together a group of diverse stakeholders early in the design process; using the Design-Build project delivery method; establishing a "Citizens Implementation Committee" to oversee the complete construction process; and supporting what they called "Option 1" as regards programming data, number of jail beds, square footage of new facilities, and voter-approved funding options.

The exact wording of all Agreements is available upon request.

In a nutshell, Option 1 recommends for the Payson Campus a new jail, complete with 48 cells capable of holding 96 beds and all the attendant administration, medical and housekeeping infrastructure, with a total cost for demolition, disposal, site preparation and construction at just under $11.3 million.

Also recommended for the Payson Campus is a new secured Criminal Justice Center to house new courtrooms and all the attendant activities of the courts, county attorney, probation and constable at a price of just under $6.5 million. The total estimated expenditures for the Payson Campus would be right at $17.8 million.

Option 1 recommends for Globe a remodeling of the current jail to include a new 48 cell/96 bed "pod," bringing the total jail beds in Globe to 186. The total cost for the jail renovations is estimated at just under $5.9 million. A new Criminal Justice Center is recommended to be built on the Globe Campus with a total cost estimated to be at $7.75 million. The total estimated expenditures for the Globe Campus would be right at $13.65 million.

A grand total estimated cost for all new facilities -- jails and criminal justice centers combined -- would be about $31.5 million. The jails would take up nearly $17.2 million and the criminal justice centers would take about $14.25 million.

You now have the basics. In the next few issues, we'll visit about appraisals, costs of different locations and visions for the different campuses. I will also answer the questions, "what is a general obligation bond?" and "why a sales tax proposal?"

Until then, think rain.

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