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Jail groundbreaking in May

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Groundbreaking for the new Buena Vista County Law Enforcement Center will likely be in May, provided everything moves forward as scheduled.

The Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors Wednesday held a teleconference with John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants. Hansen said a bid letting would likely come this April with construction starting in May.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Chuck Eddy offered the Board estimates of possible operation costs of the new jail. Some of those costs have not come directly out of the jail budget since the current jail is housed in the Buena Vista County Courthouse basement.

The Board needed Eddy's cost estimates since the supervisors are currently wrangling over the budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year. With a jail building schedule of about 10 months, the next budget would have to cover up to four months of jail operating expenses.

Based on the Plymouth County Jail, which is similar in size to the proposed Buena Vista County jail, Eddy said utilities could run $5,000 a month.

Other operating costs would include custodial supplies at $350 a month.

The Board agreed to put on its Tuesday, Jan. 17 agenda hiring a food service to make inmate meals rather than having jailers make meals, as is presently done. Eddy pegged the cost of having meals prepared by an outside vendor at $5,000 a month. For that amount, the food service would hire staff and prepare meals at a cost of $2.50 to $3 a meal. While it costs the county about $1.64 a meal now, that includes food only and does not include employee time or utilities in preparing the meals. Eddy said there could be a cost savings by using a food service.

Other costs would be for custodial service which Eddy estimated at $600 a month for four months. In winter months, snow removal would run about $600 a month, said Eddy.

Auditor Karen Strawn said landscaping costs were not specifically identified in the proposed jail budget.

Other operating costs would include transition training to help acquaint jail personnel with lock-up and inmate management and movement procedures.

In a separated matter related to his department, the Board gave Eddy the go-ahead to make plans to establish a major and two sergeants' positions in the department. The positions would follow a Civil Service classification schedule which would ensure that those holding the positions could retain them in the event that a new sheriff would resume duties. Eddy has said that his current term is the last that he will serve before retiring.

There would be no change in pay rates as compared to current personnel who are paid a percentage of the sheriff's salary. The difference with the Civil Service designation would be security of the positions with a new sheriff's administration.



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