Moffat County commissioners axe courthouse upgrades for old Kmart feasibility study | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County commissioners axe courthouse upgrades for old Kmart feasibility study

Major security upgrades for the aging Moffat County courthouse were put on hold this week after commissioners decided to pursue other options for the county’s court and administrative needs.

At the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1, commissioners heard a presentation by Roy Tipton, the county’s director of development services, who said they have withdrawn an application for $600,000 in grant funding as part of the state’s Department of Local Affairs underfunded courthouse grant.

“Back in July, you guys approved a grant application through DOLA for a secure entrance forming a single point of entry here at the courthouse,” Tipton said Tuesday. “We’ve been working with state judicial and DOLA after that application went in and decided the best way forward would be a feasibility study. That means hiring an architect to assess the square footage of this building and look at our options before we spend all that money on security. The grant with DOLA was withdrawn. That would be delayed a year while we get a chance to take a look at this.”

Tipton said they decided against upgrading the courthouse now due to the rising cost of retrofitting the courthouse with more courtroom space, new technology infrastructure, and handicap accessibility — among many other needed improvements.

“We know this is a better way forward to look at our options,” Tipton said.

According to the county’s Oct. 1 information packet, at least one of those options is the old Kmart building.

“Another option that needs to be considered is the old Kmart building in Craig that has been vacant since December of 2016,” the packet said. “This building is about 90,000 square feet and is large enough to house all of the county’s needs under one roof, while providing much improved security. The building would accommodate the extra square footage needed for courts. It would allow for a sally port along with a security corridor. It would be large enough to provide public and private circulation patterns.”

The county is already considering how to fund remodeling whatever new courthouse they may choose.

“Funding for a remodel project could be provided partially through grants along with a 1.5-cent sales tax that is dedicated to paying for the bonds that financed the Public Safety Center built in 2000,” the packet said. “These bonds will be retired in 2023 and 2025, which would free up revenue that could be applied to improvements at the courthouse. These revenues were approved by the voters for capital projects, so another ballot question would not have to take place.”

Commissioner Don Cook asked if Moffat County’s chief judge will have to sign off on the project.

“Will we need to involve the chief judge on this?” Cook asked.

“Yes,” Tipton answered. “He will have to sign off on this.”

Commissioner Ray Beck pointed out their original application for about $600,000 in funds to upgrade the Moffat County Courthouse may have been wishful thinking, as it’s a very competitive grant.

“The chances of getting that grant are, well, minimal to say the least,” Beck said. “When you look at the underfunded courthouse facility fund, the number of courthouses that are in line for courthouse improvement, I count 17 here that are also up for that.”

The grant application for Moffat County’s courthouse upgrade feasibility study is up to $200,000, so commissioners passed the motion to apply for the full amount in time for the application deadline.

“This has to be submitted by Oct. 15 in hard form, not in electronic form,” Tipton said.