Single county campus costs $102 million |

Single county campus costs $102 million

The front of the Douglas County Judicial & Law Enforcement Building.
Kurt Hildebrand |

Building a county campus that consolidates its functions at a single location would be triple the cost of renovating and expanding the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center.

Project Manager Scott McCullough prepared a cost estimate that included three options, including combining the offices currently in the Minden Inn with law enforcement.

He estimated the cost at $102.8 million, while the cost of work on just the judicial center is $31.6 million.

The price tag for a consolidated county campus would be offset by selling the judicial building and the Minden Inn for $9.3 million.

Just consolidating the offices in the Minden Inn and other county functions not involved in law enforcement would cost $20.76 million, McCullough estimated.

One of the major costs of a new county campus comes from construction of a new jail at an estimated $19.5 million.

The jail underwent a $3.9 million renovation in 2011, and is one of the few things that officials say doesn’t require expansion.

The center was build in 1982 when the county was home to 19,400 people. It was designed to last 20-25 years, and has been in service for 35 years.

“Judicial services requires an additional courtroom,” McCullough said in his report. “The district attorney’s office, sheriff’s administration and constable all have urgent needs for additional space. Security for victims of crimes, parties to legal actions and staff is compromised on a daily basis.”

Proponents are asking commissioners to implement a quarter-cent sales tax to raise $1.7 million a year to expand the law enforcement building.

While increasing the tax does not require a public vote, it does require four votes on the board of county commissioners. Two commissioners, Dave Nelson and Larry Walsh, have signed a pledge to not to raise taxes without voter approval.

East Fork Justice of the Peace Tom Perkins told commissioners it would be three years before a new facility is open. If commissioners agree by February, the item could be on the ballot.

Until 1982, the county jail was located in the basement of the historic Douglas County Courthouse, with judicial proceedings taking place in what is now commissioners’ chambers.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the county in 1979 over conditions in the old jail.