LEC decision delayedSLAYTON — Another discussion, another meeting with Short Elliot Hendrickson and another delay by Murray County commissioners.
SLAYTON — Another discussion, another meeting with Short Elliot Hendrickson and another delay by Murray County commissioners.
When it came to making a decision regarding the construction project that would give the Murray County Sheriff’s Office some breathing room, the commissioners once again requested more information and planned another meeting to discuss the situation. They set a date for a retreat to discuss the project — an approximate $1.4 million addition to the current law enforcement center (LEC) that would add office space, evidence and record storage and some elbow room.
The current LEC is inadequate for the needs of the sheriff and his deputies, according to Chief Deputy Randy Donahue. The room where deputies share a phone and two computers was originally designed as the kitchen area for the jail cells. Donahue has an office next to the courtroom, away from all the other LEC space, that was formerly used as a storage area.
At a meeting several years ago, commissioner Bob Moline told the other commissioners the LEC expansion was not something that could be put on a back burner. SEH was commissioned to design plans that utilized the old space and included an addition. Architects worked with Donahue, the sheriff and the head dispatcher for eight months to refine plans that would be amenable to all. Since early 2008, the Murray County Sheriff’s Office has been waiting for the commissioners to move forward with the plans SEH drafted.
The wait continues.
Last week, SEH’s Steve Robinson asked the commissioners to move forward with a two-phase approach to complete the project. The first phase, at a cost of $9,500, would include updating any code changes on the plans and preparing the project for bid. Robinson said if the process was started immediately, construction could begin in early August, and interior work could be completed during the winter months. George Eilertson, senior vice president of Northland Securities, was on hand to present several bond options for financing the project.
Moline asked for another week to mull over the information before making a decision on whether to move forward with the bid process. On Tuesday, it was apparent he was not ready to commit to anything. He said he didn’t want the idea to die — especially after engineering and architect dollars had already been spent — but stated he was afraid for the financial future.
“If a motion is made today and defeated, is this a dead issue?” he asked Murray County Auditor/Treasurer Heidi Winter.
“You can revisit it any time you want,” answered commissioner Kevin Vickerman.
Moline said he wanted to know more about when a decision regarding a centralized dispatch system would be made. He also wants a more exact figure on how much the LEC addition would cost. Until the project is sent out to bid, there is no way to know where those bid amounts would come in, Robinson pointed out.
“I don’t think it would be fair to go out for bids and then not accept one,” stated commissioner Gerald Magnus.
Robinson said the $1.4 million figure would likely come in lower once the project was let out for bids.
Using the $1.4 million figure, bonding information for both general obligation capital improvement bonds and lease revenue bonds were handed out at the meeting, with options on each for 10-, 15- or 20-year terms. Depending on which type of bond was used and the length of the terms, the average annual debt service of the bond would be between $111,963 and $170,004. The annual property tax estimates on a $100,000 homestead would run between $7 to $11 each year; non-homestead agricultural land estimates run 23 cents to 37 cents per acre.
Chairman John Giese said if he knew the dispatch center would eventually be in Slayton he would be inclined to move forward on the LEC, but for now it was hard for him to go ahead.
Vickerman suggested holding a public hearing to get input from the citizens of Murray County, but that idea did not appeal to the others on the board.
“Can we delay this for 30 days without getting into too much trouble?” commissioner Bill Sauer asked Robinson.
“We need a lot longer than that,” Moline stated.
Robinson said delaying until June 1 would be pushing it as far as construction for this year, explaining that costs would likely go up if outdoor construction was being done over the winter.
When Sauer suggested a retreat to gather more information and discuss the matter further, Winter asked what other information they board needed.
“We just need to know exactly where we’re at,” Sauer stated.
As the other board members pulled out calendars to discuss a date for a retreat, Vickerman still attempted to get either a decision or a public hearing from them.
“We’re not talking a great amount of tax dollars here,” he stated. “It is not that big of a bite.”
All of the commissioners agreed the additional at the LEC was desperately needed, but Vickerman, whose motion to move forward died for lack of a second last week, seemed the only one willing to commit. The retreat is scheduled for 8 a.m. May 17, but they have already decided not to decide anything that day. The item will be added to the agenda for the regular May 18 meeting, Winter said.