Justice center design continues to be fine-tuned

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Plans for the Dubois County Security Center, community corrections facility and a new justice center are being developed, but funding is being done piece by piece.

The Dubois County Commissioners approved a $370,842 contract for RQAW to continue fine-tuning the project’s schematic design.

“We’re doing this piece by piece,” Commissioners President Chad Blessinger said. “Because of the uncertainty of funding, we didn’t want to be signed up for everything, when part of the project could be rescinded or changed substantially.”

Last month, the Dubois County Council paused its plan to commit $4 million from its local income tax, or LIT, fund for the project. Council members said they wanted to discuss the matter more, especially in light of the virus pandemic that is affecting everyone.

Because of the virus, workers’ hours are being reduced, and others are being laid off. That affects the amount of income tax that would be collected and ultimately sent to government entities via the LIT fund. It will also affect the new correctional and rehabilitation facilities local income tax fund.

Blessinger told the commissioners that the design is still evolving to fit the needs of the county. Square footage is being reduced from the original proposal in RQAW’s study last year.

“The schematic design we had was the largest and most inefficient that would ever be. So we’re paring back,” he said. “And with every paring back, it’s a little bit of a reduced cost. So that’s good.”

Actual costs and the project’s budget should be ready in the next two months. County Councilman Mike Kluesner, whose profession is architectural engineering, is helping with the design as well, and has asked for more firm numbers, Blessinger said. Kluesner will continue to be involved and is helping to determine the soft costs for the project.

Because of a constitutional limit on how much a government entity can actually borrow, the commissioners must soon decide if they want to establish a building authority that would be in charge of land, or a nonprofit board that would hold the deed to the project land and lease it back to the county.

County Attorney Greg Schnarr suggested the nonprofit, which would have three members on it. “It is less intensive” than the building authority, he explained. “The building authority has more detail to it. If we were doing project after project after project, I can see that being more necessary.”

The commissioners and council will continue discussing the project at their meetings on Monday.

County officials starting looking at expanding the Dubois County Security Center after the Indiana Department of Correction mandated in 2017 that the county address ongoing inmate overcrowding issues at the center. A study was conducted, and included evaluating the entire justice system for space needs. That led to the idea of expanding the security center where it is located now on Brucke Strasse, expanding the next-door community corrections facility, and adding to the site a justice center that would house the courts and other justice departments, like the prosecutor and probation offices.




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