Over the past few months, county commissioners have reviewed options for existing building remodel and replacement as presented by Bob Johnson, with Reilly Johnson Architects (RJA). The county contracted RJA to explore the county’s building needs into the future and RJA provided space needs and projections to 2038.
Johnson told the commissioners he had spent time with the departments that would be included in the process to gather information necessary to determine the county’s needs for the new facility(s) now and in the future. The “Jail Plus” facility includes the Sheriff’s Office, EMS, Human Services and Public Health. He had also included the Grand County Animal Shelter as an add-on, since they will need to move from their current location in the next year or two.
In his presentation, Johnson walked the commissioners through an overview of the current spaces occupied by the various departments at their respective locations in Hot Sulphur Springs, Granby (EMS) and Fraser (EMS). The total space measured 46,654 square feet (s.f.). When RJA factored in current and future needs of each department, the total space needed in a new facility would total about 92,717 s.f.
Johnson presented two concepts (A&B) that would keep the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center adjacent to the courthouse. Noting the need for 35,000 s.f., Concept A would remodel or demolish the existing Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center and extend the building across Moffat Avenue into the parking lot to the west of the current location. Concept B would demolish the existing building and rebuild a new Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center in the current parking lot, west of the courthouse. Parking would be moved two blocks south on Moffat Avenue, in the space currently occupied by the Sheriff Garage and Impound Lot, which would be relocated to another site in town or included in a consolidated/colocated campus.
“The biggest advantage of keeping the facility in Hot Sulphur Springs and using the parking lot is that we can make use of being attached to the judicial center and access via a tunnel to the elevator”, said Johnson. “We could build a third courtroom where the DA’s office is now, when needed. There is nothing more compelling to keeping this here, but it comes at a big price”. It would cost the county about $1.25 million to make the connection via an underground tunnel from the Public Safety facility to the courthouse basement. He added that by keeping the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center close to the courthouse, it eliminates the need to transport inmates to the judicial center, and, by building on existing county land, would save the county money.
Johnson presented cost models for the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center in a menu format, with escalation built in for a June/July 2020 start. Johnson told the commissioners “the $32 million price tag is not a minimum, it is probably a maximum, and could cost less”.
On the topic of a consolidated, co-located campus, Johnson presented space requirements which included a site minimum of 7 acres, which is yet to be acquired. The estimated cost of a consolidated campus, including the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center, is about $56.5 million. The estimation had been made with and without the addition of non-profit agencies in the co-located facility. “Without the non-profits, the cost would be reduced by about $5 million”, said County Manager Staab.
At the February 5th BOCC meeting, Jen Fanning, Executive Director of Grand County Rural Health Network, presented the commissioners with an analysis and statistics supporting the value of co-locating agencies that provide services to a similar clientele. The lack of public transportation and the location of clients suggested Granby to be a more central location.
Fanning told the commissioners that a colocated facility had been the topic of discussion for over ten years. They had initially worked with KMHD/Middle Park Health to create a co-located facility, but when the economy dropped in 2008, a determination was made to focus on medical care.
“We serve the backbone of our community making the low income wages”, said Fanning. “Getting to services is a tremendous problem for people. It was identified that a colocated building would benefit the community. In 2016, we surveyed over 400 people, focusing on the underserved in our community. This came out as a result of the survey came from people who used the services.”
Fanning had assembled a list of ten non-profit agencies that had expressed interest in co-locating who would benefit from being “just down the hall” from one another. Fanning also pointed out the savings each agency would realize by sharing facilities and resources and eliminating redundancy. On average, each agency could save about 7%, or, about $17,500 per agency (with a $250,000 annual operating budget).
She also described the grant and low interest loan funding options available for a co-located facility, which could help offset the costs to the county. The interested agencies include Project Sanctuary, Mind Springs Health, Advocates, Northwest Colorado Health, NW Colorado Center for Independence, NW Rocky Mountain CASA, Horizons, Epic, Grand Futures and Grand County Rural Health Network.
Recognizing that Granby would be a further distance for Kremmling clients to travel to, she suggested a satellite location could be established in Kremmling. Fanning stated that some agencies already travel to Kremmling on a weekly basis and offered that most agencies could also travel to a location in Kremmling at least once a week to ensure adequate provision of services countywide.
Representatives from each department addressed the commissioners, describing the current state of their facilities. Sheriff Brett Shroetlin described frequent sewage back-ups and safety concerns with a building they have outgrown. Deb Ruttenberg with Human Services and Brene Belew-LaDue with Public Health told the commissioners of the space inadequacy and inefficiency with their current facilities, and, Alan Pulliam of Grand County EMS described the deteriorating conditions of the Granby and Fraser buildings.
Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor, Bob McVay, told the commissioners “I can see the need for a co-located facility, but it needs to be apart from the sheriff’s facility. If we left sheriff’s facility here and looked for another location for the co-located building, I’m sure there a couple of places here in town we could find to make that work”.
Fraser Winter Park Police Chief, Glen Trainor, stated, “the jail did not meet ACI standards when I worked here years ago, and many issues have resulted in claims against the county”. He said, “it is a different Grand County we are in now versus 10-15 years ago. My calls have increased 48% in the last 5 years”. Trainor recalled that he never saw a county sheriff when he first started working in Winter Park. “There is less time for patrol as officers are spending more time doing reports”. This puts a burden on local resources. “I wish services were more centralized and ask that you please take that in to consideration”, said Trainor.
Granby Mayor Paul Chavoustie, said, “Thanks for having this discussion. I love the idea of planning in advance. I like Option B, but am not in opposition to locating in Granby. I am always open for conversations and brainstorming, we can be very creative”.
East Grand School Superintendent Frank Reeves told the commissioners, “We are in the middle of our master planning and a part of that is Granby Elementary School. It is overcrowded and not the best atmosphere for our kids, with over 375 students. We are looking at relieving overcrowding and perhaps building a new elementary school, which would leave a really great building open”. Reeves added, “It would take some work, but not a lot. As we develop our master plan, that could be a possibility to maybe save a little money on both of our sides. We are at the same stage as you are. Please keep that in mind.”.
The commissioners agreed they were not at a point where they could make any decisions on the project yet. Reviewing all building options, determining priorities and securing the proper funding would need to be worked out prior to any decisions being made.
At the February 12th presentation of the county’s five-year budget plan, County Manager Staab explained that the budget was prepared as a briefing to show how certain things could be done. He confirmed that no prioritization or location of facilities has been made. Using the cost analysis presented by RJA, he presented it as an example of the what the county could do to help develop a financial strategy to replace the facilities.
In Staab’s example, he broke out construction into three phases, with the EMS facilities being replaced first, starting in 2019 with design and construction beginning in 2020 at an estimated cost of $15,150,000 for 30,300 s.f.; the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center next in 2020/2021 at an estimated cost of $32,750,000 for 44,000 s.f.; and, Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2021/2022 at an estimated cost of $6,750,000 for 13,500 s.f.
In his example, Staab showed that the county’s fund balance would be used to finance the estimated 8% cost for design of each project. The fund balance would also be used to finance $1,212,000 for the EMS facilities in 2019 and $975,660 would be paid annually in the following 19 years. The Public Safety Facility would cost $2,620,000 in 2020 and $2,109,000 would be paid annually the following 19 years and the Health and Human Services building would be $540,000 in 2021 with $434,700 paid annually the following 19 years.
Staab suggested 20-year bonds as a way to finance construction of the new facilities. An EMS bond for $13,938,000; Public Safety bond at $30,130,000 and HHS at $6,210,000.
One way to help pay for the bonds could be a ballot measure, asking the voters for a .5% sales tax increase OR increase property taxes by 3.85 mills to fund construction and maintenance facilities. Staab included numbers applicable to revenue generated by the ballot measure projecting $2,793,840 in 2021 and incremental increases each year thereafter.
Using the calculations from the above assumptions, the five-year budget showed a deficit in 2019 of $1.1 million, a surplus in 2020 of $3.8 million and in 2021 of $8.5 million and deficits in 2022 and 2023 of $10 million and $500,000 respectively.
Staab also brought in a financial advisor, a polling consultant and a bond underwriter to share their insight on how the financing process could go.
During the meeting, many options were discussed, including public/private partnerships, raising community awareness of the county’s building needs and bond funding strategies. The county would most likely utilize the Lease/Purchase Certificate of Participation (COP) mechanism, and twenty years was presented as the most feasible term.
Before any decisions can be made, there are still many things for the commissioners and staff to investigate. The RJA analysis and Staab’s budget illustration serve as a foundation, but budget items such as operational expenses, ongoing maintenance and land costs, as applicable, have yet to be projected. The decision on whether to remodel existing buildings, build new and/or co-locate with non-profits, as well as where to place them is still very much up in the air. Conducting a real estate analysis, acquisition and disposition of property and reviewing options for building on county-owned land, such as the Flying Heels Rodeo grounds, or purchasing an existing building, such as Granby Elementary School, are still to be investigated. Available grants from various resources and whether to put the funding to a ballot measure are also yet to be determined.
The commissioners invite the public to contact them with questions and input on the replacement county facilities. Chair Rich Cimino (District 1): firstname.lastname@example.org; Commissioner Merrit Linke (District 2): email@example.com; and, Commissioner Kris Manguso (District 3): firstname.lastname@example.org.