Court-affiliated agencies rethink new building plan
By SCOTT AUST
A proposal made a couple of months ago by three court-affiliated agencies to construct a new building that would create a one-stop shop for court-ordered services has run into some obstacles, the Finney County Commission learned on Monday.
Officials with Youth Services, Community Corrections, District Court — Court Services had proposed in April building a new facility next to the Juvenile Detention Center to house all their services.
The four agencies are located in offices across the community. Community Corrections and Youth Services lease office space at 601 N. Main St. and 2701 N. 11th St., and both leases, paid for by the Kansas Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Authority, respectively, are set to expire in 2014. Court services is located at 405 N. Eighth St., and JDC is at 507 W. Santa Fe St., both owned and maintained by the county.
The goal of the building project was to eliminate areas of overlap or duplication of services.
The initial rough estimate to build a new 18,000 square feet building was projected at around $2 million.
However, the agencies have learned constructing a new building would be considerably more expensive than anticipated.
Kurtis Jacobs, district court administrator, said an architectural study of what each agency wanted to see in a new building came up with a 26,729-square-foot building that would cost about $4.36 million for a very basic building that did not include any furnishings.
"That was obviously not something we could swing. It was far more money than we thought we could come up with, so we went back to the drawing board and started whittling it down," he said.
A scaled down version provided 21,895 square feet for $3.57 million, which was still more than the groups have in potential funding.
Jacobs said the groups have started looking at buying an existing building outright or financing it through a lease-purchase agreement, and then remodeling the building to fit their needs.
Buildings that have been looked at include:
* The current Youth Services building on 11th Street. However, the building is not large enough for all three agencies and there are issues with a roof leak, parking and the distance from downtown.
* The existing Community Corrections building on Main Street and a building available next to it. But it has less than adequate space for all three agencies, limited parking, and ADA issues being without an elevator.
* American Legion building on Spruce Street. The building is small and in disrepair. Jacobs said the location is good, but the building space would need to be tripled or quadrupled to accommodate all three agencies making the option likely cost prohibitive.
* Commerce Bank building downtown on Main Street. With 25,000 square feet, the building has adequate space, but would require some remodeling. Also, some parts might not be able for public use mainly on the second floor due to the lack of an elevator and ADA access.
"What we come to you today with is a progress report laying out some of the basic issues," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said the groups want guidance from the commission about whether the county is willing to provide financial support to help Court Services and JDC to participate in a project if one moves forward, or whether community corrections and youth services should work together on their own project using their existing funding stream.
Commissioners indicated they would want to see cost estimates about remodeling the Commerce Bank building, though there's no guarantee the county has money available for another building project in the near future.
"I think before we give these guys a directive we need to see where we come out with the bids on the Exhibition Building," Commissioner Roman Halbur said. "We need to do that before we step into another major project."
A renovation of the Exhibition Building at the county fairgrounds went out for bids this spring. The county expects to open bids for the project as soon as its July 1 meeting. Commissioners indicated they would talk about the court-affiliated building project again at that meeting.
In other business, the commission took under advisement 2014 budget requests from the following departments agencies:
The Health Department, $1,732,159, an increase of about $25,000; District Court, $1,025,000, an increase of about $254,000; Computer Support, $303,778, a decrease of about $144,000; Public Works, about $5.7 million, an increase of about $1.6 million mostly due to projects in the Building/Road Repair and Maintenance Program; Noxious Weed, $511,791, an increase of about $6,000; Landfill, $772,000, a decrease of about $245,000; and Convention and Visitors Bureau, $1,192,000, a decrease of about $242,000.