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Tax Forum Documents (These documents were handed out at the forum.)
The Douglas County commissioners and Sheriff Chris Degase held a community forum on Thursday, Aug. 26 to discuss the proposed sales tax bond issue to build and maintain a new justice center.
The forum had around 50 attendees, about 20 of which were not directly involved with the county.
The forum was opened by Presiding Commissioner Butch Linder, who welcomed those attending. Degase then gave an overview of the process that led to the sales tax being placed on the Nov. 2, 2010 ballot.
Then, Larry Goldberg, president of Goldberg, Sullivan & McCrerey, an architectural and planning firm out of St. Joseph, Mo., gave some information on the building.
The architectural firm has been open for 29 years, and has spent the last 25 years focusing on the design of small to mid-size criminal justice centers. The firm has designed a total of 160 jails, along with other buildings such as courthouses.
Goldberg said that the proposed justice center was originally 32,000 square feet, but has been cut down to 25,000 square feet.
The justice center will house a jail, the sheriff’s department, court rooms, the prosecuting attorney’s offices and the circuit clerk’s offices.
The jail will be located on the lower level, while all the other offices will be located on the street level.
The jail will have 48 general population beds, along with 2 medical or segregation beds and 11 temporary holding beds.
The proposed center will be located on the corner of SE Third Avenue and SE Fifth Street.
The design includes a sally port, an enclosed garage area used for loading and unloading prisoners.
“The idea is that you won’t ever see a prisoner,” Goldberg said.
The design also includes an enclosed gymnasium.
“You don’t have the prisoners hanging around the fence like you would with an outdoor exercise area, and they can’t get stuff thrown into there for them,” Goldberg said.
Prisoners are entitled to three square feet of daylight, and the design provides that by having a walkway between the cells and the exterior walls. The cells themselves do not have windows in them, and are not directly aligned with the exterior windows, so prisoners have daylight but cannot see, or be seen, from the windows.
The exterior of the center has been designed to look like a professional office building, Goldberg said.
The center is expected to cost $5.6 to $5.7 million to construct, including equipment, fixtures and furnishings.
Goldberg said the county would save 8 to 12 percent off construction prices from two years ago if they built now.
Leroy Winkle of LJ Hart & Company then gave some information about the financing of the project.
The county is proposing two, one-half-cent sales taxes to fund the justice center.
The first one-half cent would be for the construction of the building, while the second one-half cent would be for the staffing and operating expenses for the sheriff’s office, county jail and justice center.
The first half-cent will expire in 20 years, except for one-eighth of a cent, which will continue indefinitely to meet the maintenance expenses of the justice center.
Winkle said if a person bought $100 of merchandise at a Douglas County store, they would be charged an extra 50 cents for each sales tax that passed, or $1 if both passed.
A question was asked about if one ballot question passes, and the other one doesn’t.
The answer was that if ballot question #1 passes (to construct the center), the county will hold onto that money until ballot question #2 passes (to operate and run the center).
However, Degase said if ballot question #2 passes (for operating/staffing expenses), that the money would probably be put into use, even without the new justice center.
In answer to another question, Goldberg said if the sales tax passes, the project would likely be bid out in Jan.-Feb. 2011, construction would begin that spring and would be finished in around 13-14 months.
He also said that he would like to see local companies bid on certain aspects of the construction.
A question was asked about the storm rating on the building. The building would be able to withstand an 8 on the Richtor Scale, or about 125 mile-per-hour winds, which would be an F3 tornado.
Someone asked how much in sales taxes would the county have if the justice center passed. The county currently has one and one-half cents in sales taxes, so the new total would be two and one-half cents.
One-half cent is for the ambulance service, while the other one-half cent is for general revenue.
However, people who shop in Douglas County also pay sales taxes to the city of Ava and the state of Missouri.
Other questions included the security of the building, directly pertaining to where the elevator is located and how sound-proof the two floors would be.
Organizers said several more forums will be held, some in the outlying areas of the county, leading up to the November ballot.