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By Marlana Smith
Shelby County voters will have the option to pass Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 in the April election allowing the county to start the process of building a 12,200 square foot county jail. Nearly 35 individuals attended a public meeting Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the courthouse in Shelbyville at 6:30 p.m.
Both propositions must pass for them to go into effect. If one proposition doesn’t pass, then the county cannot move forward.
Chairman of the Jail Committee Andrew Coon presented a near 13-minute video that discussed the current jail situation along with information on the possible new facility.
The 130-year-old current jail holds 16 inmates. The new jail would hold 30 inmates, house 911 Dispatch and the Sheriff’s Office.
The current plumbing, HVAC and other equipment in the jail is beyond its useful life and will require replacement.
The new facility would be located on the north side of the current courthouse at the “King’s One Stop” site. The estimated cost of the project would between $6,992,417 to $7,500,000. Coon said if voters were to pass both propositions, the first thing to deal with is getting the gas tanks that are currently there taken out. Commissioners are currently dealing with Missouri Department of Natural Resources to get the tanks off the site.
“If passed in April, it would be bid out and if local contractors want to bid on that, they can,” Coon said, “I would love to see as much of that $7 million spent locally as possible.”
Larry Smoot asked, assuming it passes, any plans for the existing facility as far as renovating it and using it for other purposes?
Shelby County Presiding Commissioner Terry Helmick said, “We currently have three storage sheds that we got documents and other things stored in. We will probably use the basement for storage. More secure for these documents that we have to hold onto and we would do away with those three sheds.”
Zach McCurdy said, “I’ve heard some people say this is for people who have broken the law, why do they deserve a new jail.” McCurdy asked if someone said that to you how would you address that?
Coon responded, “There are two ways to answer that. One is to say it is just about dignity. This is not about making the Hilton. This is about the sewer backs up down there and nobody should wake up and step in their own urine.
“If you want the other argument. This is going to happen. We pay for it now or we pay for it later when the judge shuts it down or worst-case scenario someone gets hurt. If you walk down, there you could see how someone would get hurt. Then we pay out a multi-million-dollar lawsuit and then we build it.
“Argue from human dignity or argue from your pocketbook.”
911 Director Staci Helmick added, “It’s not just the prisoners that are downstairs. It’s the deputies, the secretaries, the dispatchers. We work in that environment as well. We are breathing in the mold and the sewer in the basement. We are working in that environment 24/7.”
Ashley Dunn said, “The Presiding Commissioner said the downstairs is going to be used for storage, but then we talk about mold and sitting in your own urine, sewer backups. You want our files to go down there? Are you going to do any type of remediations for the downstairs before you put the files down there?”
“We would have to,” responded Presiding Commissioner Terry Helmick.
Ray Bacon said, “I was just curious if this all passes how long does it take to build something like that?”
Adam Kuehl, primary architect from HMN Architects of the Kansas City Metro Area responded, “We will have about six months of design to get everything right, to get the bid documents out right, then 12 to 14 months construction, generally. You’re looking at opening in 2025.”
An individual asked do you have an idea on what the current average is? How full is it over time?
Shelby County Sheriff Arron Fredrickson responded, “We can average about 10 people per day. Sometimes we are back down to six for one or two days.”
Fredrickson said Knox and Ralls counties don’t have jails and Pike County shut down its jail. He said Monroe County only holds males. Fredrickson said the Sheriff’s Office would house any of their overall and they would pay the SCSO per day.
“We are not going to be taking any of the violent offenders. We get to dictate on who we take based on their charges,” Fredrickson explained. “The plus side is, that the county pays us directly versus us trying to go get the board bill out of the inmates.”
Sheriff Fredrickson also discussed how the new facility would allow separation of non-violent offenders, one that has a DWI, and an offender who might be a sex offender.
After the meeting, individuals were invited to tour the jail. Fredrickson gave the tour.
The Financial Side
Coon said, one-eighth of the sales tax would go to Clarence and Shelbina Police Departments.
“Both propositions are half cents. When they are paid off one of them goes away. The other one continues, because as you may have noticed, buildings take maintenance,” said Coon.
L.J. Hart & Company is establishing the financing model. Based upon a conservation estimate of interest rates ranging from 4.00% to 4.75% over twenty years, the County, to be safe, needs to receive revenues from the two ½ Cent sales tax in excess of approximately $580,000 per year. An additional $90,000 of revenue from the Use Tax collection is also anticipated. When combining these collections, a total of $670,000 becomes available ($580,000 + $90,000 = $670,000) to cover the expected annual principal and interest payments of about $625,000 by 1.07 times ($670,000 / $625,000 = 1.07 times).
The Shelby County Herald contacted Presiding Commissioner Terry Helmick with additional questions.
When would sales tax collection begin?
If the propositions were passed the sales tax collection would begin October of 2023