Grand County is turning to Utah’s Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) for help in renovating its aging jail.
The county hopes to receive half of the renovation project’s estimated $5 million costs through a grant, and the other half through a low-interest – or possibly no-interest – loan that would be paid back through the county’s general fund.
Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll said the county originally prepared a grant application for the full amount. But after Carroll, Grand County Sheriff Steve White, Grand County Emergency Management Director Rick Bailey and jail commander Veronica Bullock met with CIB officials, it became apparent that the county wouldn’t receive the full amount.
“It was suggested that we revise our application, so we prepared several options for the council to consider,” Carroll said.
White told the Moab Sun News that renovation was necessary, “to bring things up to standard.”
“This building is 20 years old and things are wearing out,” he said.
White said that the kitchen needs to be upgraded. Improvements to the building’s plumbing and electrical systems are also needed, he said, and additional security issues must be addressed.
“We’ve got some blind corners in there that create safety issues for our staff,” he said.
Bailey concurred and said that technological changes that have developed over the past 20 years must be incorporated into the security system.
“It’s a safety issue for staff and inmates,” he said.
Carroll presented revised application options to the Grand County Council at a municipal building authority meeting on July 21, and the council unanimously approved an amended application to CIB with two options attached.
Both options include a request for $2.5 million grant, and an additional $2.5 million on a 20-year loan plan.
The first option asks for a no-interest loan that would leave the county with an annual debt of $125,000. The second one requests a loan with a 2.5 percent interest rate that would cost the county $160,500 per year.
A third option considered was a $1 million grant request, with a $4 million loan. The annual cost to Grand County for that loan amount would be $254,353 dollars for 20 years.
Jackson said he would have to reconsider if CIB rejected the first two options before he would vote to commit the county to the third option.
“$160,000 a year is very doable,” he said. “But $250,000 a year – I’d want to think about that.”
Carroll told the council that she doesn’t think the county would have a problem affording $160,500 a year. She said the county has three loans that are nearly paid off, and that would enable it to easily make the new loan payments.
Council member Ken Ballantyne expressed concern that the county is “throwing a $5 million Band-Aid on a $12 million problem.”
“This has to be done,” Ballantyne said. “I just hope that what is done with this $5 million can tie completely into the future renovation of this whole area.”
Jackson said he didn’t think that the solution was a Band-Aid.
“The Band-Aid was when we came in and put a roof on to stop the leaking,” Jackson said. “We made a conscious decision: Are we going to go for a brand new public safety building at $20 million, or do we fix this correctly at what we’re estimating to be $5 million?”
“This will fix our problems,” he added.
Council member Jaylyn Hawks asked if the county would be locked into the options on the application.
Jackson said that in his experience, there would be some room for negotiation with the CIB.
“Grand County is due some CIB money,” he said. “I think they are going to be very amenable to this.”
The CIB provides loans or grants to state agencies and subdivisions of the state which are socially or economically impacted by mineral resource development on federal lands. The funding comes from mineral lease royalties that the federal government returns to the state.
Funding is typically used to develop or enhance local infrastructure.
In Grand County, CIB funding has contributed to the construction of the Canyonlands Care Center, the Old Spanish Trail Arena and the Moab Recreation Center.
Jackson told the Moab Sun News that although CIB funds projects all over the state, in general it looks to provide the majority of the funding for county projects in counties where the revenue is produced.
“Based on a ballpark analysis of funding by county, compared with revenue generated by each county … Grand is behind in what could be available to us based on our production,” Jackson said.
Bailey said that funding jails is never popular among taxpayers, so he was hopeful that CIB would grant the request for funding. Otherwise he said, the issue will have to go before voters as a bond.
“Everybody understands that this is something that needs to be done,” he said. “We’re hoping CIB looks favorably upon us.”
This building is 20 years old and things are wearing out.
Officials say work needed to address wear and tear