Public Safety Center final tally: $13.1M

Officials say cost of facility is under budget

The Moffat County Public Safety Center is almost complete reportedly on time, and projected to be on budget.

To build the Public Safety Center (PSC), Moffat County officials raised $11,568,866. The money came from $9,705,866 in bonds, three grants totaling $663, 000, and a purchase agreement with the Colorado State Patrol worth $1.2 million.

Voters approved $10 million tax adjustment in 1998 for the construction of the Public Safety Center. The Colorado State Patrol, Moffat County Sheriff's Department, Craig Police Department, Colorado State Patrol Dispatch Center and Moffat County Jail will be housed in the center, saving taxpayers the cost of duplicating facilities, officials said. Moffat County Commissioners agreed to bring high-speed, fiber optic access to the Public Safety Center to convince the Colorado State Patrol to place its regional dispatch center in Moffat County.

The agreement added $1,600,000 to the cost of the project, bringing the project total to $13,168,866, of which $10,705,866 was directly funded by Moffat County taxpayers. Nearly $10 million is being spent on construction, and $1 million for the telecommunication component of the site. A $600,000 Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant supplied the other monies for the telecommunications cost.

The fiber access for the facility will be available on time, according to Dennie Mecham, general manager for NC Telecom.

"Right now, we are projected to be $6,561 over budget, but that's before we apply the $300,000 contingency fund built into the budget," said Debra Murray, Moffat County administrative assistant. "But until we get to completion, we can't be sure of the final numbers."

The contingency fund could be used up in the remaining months of construction before the July 18 deadline, Murray said, but officials are hopeful, and think there is a good possibility that when the project is complete there will be money left over to be returned to the county budget, "which, of course, would be great, as far as we're concerned," Murray said.

Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead has spent many hours dealing with the numerous projects and problems that have arisen over the course of this construction.

"This is a great building. It's well laid out and well equipped. It fits our needs," Grinstead said. "Personally, I voted against the Center, but as Sheriff, I've worked hard to build the best, most efficient building we could."

Grinstead cites the building's ability to handle growth as one of its most important aspects. Many offices that will hold two to three officers to start are large enough to accommodate future expansion to twice that capacity. Space that is labeled as storage, or left undesignated, will also provide room for future officers and services.

The recreation room has been built with plumbing and sewage access to provide future cells if they are required. When the need arises, the new cells can be built quickly and relatively inexpensively, Grinstead said.

But, the process has been far from perfect.

The maximum and minimum security cell pods lost their skylights, and that's an issue because "one of the subjects inmates sue over is the lack of natural light.

"You can put them in now for X amount of dollars, or possibly deal with the cost of a lawsuit and, if they win, the cost of retrofitting skylights into the building," Grinstead said. "You could end up paying much more in the future."

The loss of some storage space and the reduction of the size of the Sally-port, a secure area where prisoners are unloaded to be brought into the jail, were also issues Grinstead was not pleased with. These changes were made through value engineering, a decision-making process that was installed before Grinstead became involved with the project.

The prison will have 92 beds, a number that was reduced from 128 through value engineering, but Grinstead said the jail has the capacity for the county's needs both now and in the future.

The value engineering process was done to help keep the project affordable and within the bounds of the project's premise, Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said. Value engineering is a process where the size of the project is reduced if the cost needs to be reduced without taking away from the quality of the final product.

"The number of beds were reduced for two reasons," Raftopoulos said. "The first was that our need was reevaluated, and the number of work-release beds were reduced, and the original architectural firm, DLR, made plans that were said to have a cost of about $8 million to build, but when the actual bids from construction companies started coming in, that estimate proved unrealistic," she said, "so we had to adjust our plans accordingly.

"We have been working with a tight budget throughout this process and during that process, some of the things that were removed were put back in," Raftopoulos said. "We've worked very hard to get this facility for a reasonable cost."

Grinstead is concerned about the amount of revenue the jail is expected to generate 20 to 25 years from now.

"The jail is supposed to be generating $500,000 a year in 25 years, and I'm a little skeptical on those long-term projections. But overall, I'm pleased with the lay out and very impressed with the building," Grinstead said. "And with projects like this, the future is hard to call. In the mid-70s, the Commissioners were recalled for purchasing the land for Loudy-Simpson Park. Look at the quality and value we enjoy from the park today; it's only there because those Commissioners had the vision to put that plan into action."

"It's very exciting to see the project really coming together," Raftopoulos said.

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