It took casting four ballots, but after considerable wrangling over costs, the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors in special session Friday agreed to put on the Nov. 8 election ballot a $4.8 million jail project just north of the Richland Street Annex on Expansion Blvd.
Meanwhile, support of Friday's jail project vote by the Buena Vista County Farm Bureau, which has said it could support a $4 million jail project, remains unknown.
Architect Rod Moore of Omaha estimates a base bid of $4,496,515 for the jail.
One additional alternate was enclosing a 2,000-square-foot area for a future 16-bed expansion at $286,074. A second alternate to add the county engineer's office on the south side of the building would be $196,875, making a total overall bid of $4,979,464.
Board of Supervisors Chair Lorna Burnside started the discussion by urging action. "If anybody thinks it's going to get cheaper, it won't," Burnside said, pointing to an unknown impact from Hurricane Rita.
"What are we going to tackle first, the money or the date," Supervisor Bill Lanphere asked about cost figures and setting the election date.
Burnside suggested the Board first settle on an amount. Lanphere suggested considering Moore's base bid plus $250,000 to put the communications center in the jail.
He said he would like to add $153,000 for contingencies, making $4.9 million total. "I think it's important to keep it under $5 million," Lanphere said.
Supervisor Jim Gustafson said he would like to keep the cost to between $4.4 and $4.6 million.
In three votes, the Board turned down motions for bond issues for $4.9 million by Lanphere, $4.5 million by Gustafson, and $4,750,000 by Herb Crampton.
"I just don't want to do a project that's 3-2," said Lanphere. He moved that the Board authorize a $4.8 million bond issue and the Board approved, with Gustafson dissenting.
The Board also settled on the Nov. 8 vote, as part of the general election.
When asked about the vote after the meeting, Terry Murray, Buena Vista County Farm Bureau officer and announced candidate for supervisor, seemed uncertain.
"I don't know," Murray said. "That's way above what our membership wanted." Murray said 85 percent of county Farm Bureau members voting favored capping jail costs at $4 million. He acknowledged though, that construction costs had risen.
Murray said Farm Bureau membership is not scheduled to meet again until Nov. 8, election day. "I think it would be a close vote," Murray said of a $4.8 million bond issue. He said a $4.4 million to $4.5 million bond issue would likely be more acceptable.
Farm Bureau opposition helped defeat a bond issue for a county jail in 2000.
Murray said that at a 4.5 percent interest rate, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay $22.08 a year toward the jail, a business $45.22 a year, or a farmer of 400 acres of average farmland, $128.30 a year.