The Morton County Commission voted to begin design plans for a new jail during a special commission meeting Thursday.
The commission voted unanimously to allow Kimme & Associates to start designing plans for a shared Burleigh County and Morton County jail. Costs for all planning are not to exceed $60,500.
Both counties are experiencing space shortages for their inmates and must transport many to other jails in the state. A straw poll vote done on Nov. 6 showed Morton County residents wanted to build a jail with Burleigh County.
On the table is a proposal that Burleigh and Morton counties share the costs of a new $50 million jail at the Missouri Valley Complex fairgrounds in Bismarck. Morton County’s share of the planning costs for the jail will be $17,000.
As part of the vote, the commission also asked Kimme & Associates to determine how many beds could be added to the Morton County Correctional Center if the county were to purchase the Berube Apartments on the southeast block of the Law Enforcement Center. The cost of those plans will be $9,500.
Commissioners still want to have the option of building a jail in Morton County. In the same vote, the commission decided to hold off on design plans for a Morton County facility. The plans would only be made if Morton County decided to build its own jail. The cost would be $34,000.
If Morton County were to back out of plans to join efforts with Burleigh County, Kimme & Associates asked for $7,500 for re-planning costs.
“I don’t understand that one at all,” Commissioner Andy Zachmeier said.
Chairman Bruce Strinden was also concerned about the extra cost. He said he understands there may be costs associated with a redesign but thought the amount might be high. If the commission does decide to switch to a Morton County facility, the redesign costs would be discussed at that time.