A joint meeting of jail committees from Burleigh and Morton counties favored seeking architect offers Tuesday morning to design a combined jail.
Burleigh County officials will ask the county commission to advertise for firms, said Burleigh County Commissioner Jerry Woodcox. Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert said Tuesday that no fee range had been discussed for the cost of the architect.
“We want to get more definite plans, find a location and get more definite costs,” Woodcox said.
Woodcox believes more detailed designs and costs would help voters decide on the jail. He hopes Burleigh County could receive design offers in early 2013.
Both counties have been forced to keep inmates in other jails because the local jails have exceeded their capacity. Other jails in central and western North Dakota also are full.
Both county commissions would be asked to consider sharing costs for the architect, Woodcox said.
Three possible jail site locations have been identified at the Missouri Valley Complex (fairgrounds) in Bismarck.
The firm Kimme & Associates, whose jail study in August favored a combined detention center, also will be asked to bring back models of prisons that they helped create in Green Bay, Wis., and Fargo, Woodcox said. The firm’s early cost estimate for the jail was $50 million.
Woodcox said the counties will ask the North Dakota Association of Counties to help draft a home rule charter bill for the 2013 Legislature. It would speed up the home rule charter voting process.
Burleigh County officials want to use a home rule charter to start a short-term sales tax to pay for the jail. State laws only allow home rule votes during primary and general elections. Burleigh County commissioners want the home rule vote in a special election.
On Monday, Morton County Commission Chairman Bruce Strinden said he favored using the same jail funding source as Burleigh County so voters aren’t confused. On Nov. 6, Morton County voters favored a combined jail in a straw vote. Strinden suggested a limited multi-county, home rule charter to pay for it.
“It would be nice to do this as one joint venture,” Woodcox said. “We could market it together.” He said constituents from each county would still have to decide.
Woodcox said both counties have backup plans if a combined jail can’t be built in the future. Morton County officials have discussed a $6 million expansion to their existing site. Burleigh County also could downsize plans for a jail to meet only its space needs.
“This would be just for building a jail. No other items,” Woodcox said of a jail sales tax.
The next meeting of the joint jail committee is scheduled for Jan. 15.