Growing space needs and rising costs have resulted in a renewed sense of urgency for expansion of the administrative area of the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office.
The estimated $3.9 million expansion, if eventually approved by the Board of Supervisors, would add 6,035 square feet of space to the sheriff’s administrative side of the Pottawattamie County Jail building and 741 square feet of office space to the jail side of the building.
Sheriff Jeff Danker told supervisors his department marked its 20th anniversary in the jail building last month, and space needs have continued to grow with expansion and added responsibilities for the department over the past two decades.
Danker said the addition that was discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was first brought to the board’s attention in 2014. The cost then was estimated at $2.5 million.
“Our needs continue to grow,” Danker said Tuesday.
With the assistance of Martin Burgland of the DLR Group, Danker outlined the proposed expansion.
The proposal calls for the addition of a training room on the south side of the current building that would accommodate 40 people for department training or press conferences. The space, which would not include unlimited access to the department’s administrative offices, would also be available for some public events. The training area would also include men’s and women’s restroom areas.
The administrative area’s current training room would be reconfigured to provide additional space for evidence processing and laboratory work.
Most of the administrative area expansion would be an addition to the east side of the building that would include additional office space as well as the rest rooms for the new training area.
Danker said he believes the proposed additions to the jail building “should get us by for a good number of years.”
Danker provided a current estimated cost breakdown for the addition that has now risen to slightly more than $3.9 million. He said his department currently has approximately $1.7 million in forfeiture funds that he has been saving to help fund the addition.
“I think we need to find a way to get this done,” Supervisor Justin Schultz said. “We need to find a way to fund this.”
“We’re facing a losing battle if we don’t get something done,” Supervisor Scott Belt added. “It’s gone up more than $1 million since 2014.”
Responding to a question from Belt about the cost of preparing a set of architects’ and engineers’ drawings that would allow the county to seek bids for the project, DLR Group’s Burgland estimated it would cost $250,000 to $260,000 and take four to six months to prepare the needed drawings.
Danker, who said he would like to see supervisors “get this off center,” said he’s open to using a portion of the saved forfeiture money to prepare the drawings needed to open a bidding process.
Board Chairman Tim Wichman said that while he is not opposed to the board further studying the plan and a discussion of ways to fund the project, he would “prefer to know where we would come up with the money before we spend any money.”
Belt’s motion to authorize preparation of plans needed for bidding with the cost to be paid with sheriff’s department forfeiture funds was seconded by Schultz. The motion was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Wichman voting “no.”
Danker said after the meeting, that had the additional space been included in the planning to accommodate future needs when the bond issue was approved by county voters more than 20 years ago, the cost would have been about $500,000.
“Had I known then that the bond was going to be approved by 83% of the voters, I would have added it.”