A centralized criminal justice center in Moab is one of the recommendations created in a Grand County staffing and facilities needs assessment.
The assessment was created by Matrix Consulting Group with input from a local steering committee comprised of county staff in various departments and members of the Grand County Council. Aaron Baggarly from Matrix Consulting Group explained the key findings of the report in an overview of the assessment during a meeting on March 19 with the county council.
Baggarly thanked the community for its input and support in creating the report.
“I wish I had more clients that were this interactive out there, but a lot of times we don’t,” he said.
The study involved a five-step process, he said.
“We had to really come in and get an understanding of what’s happening here in Grand County,” Baggarly said.
Matrix Consulting Group created a detailed profile of each department’s operations as it related to workflow, staffing and facility issues, he said. This included looking at potential opportunities for sharing services with Grand County and other entities within the county, including the City of Moab.
“Ultimately, we analyzed the staffing and space needs for the county, looking at the current staffing needs in 2019, but also a five year projection out to 2024, and then we did subsequent space needs today and also in 2024 as well,” he said.
THE CURRENT OPERATING CONDITIONS
“Currently, there’s a total of 150.3 full-time equivalent positions in the county departments and offices that we found as part of this study” he said, “Overall, your facilities are in generally good condition, which means they are well maintained, they show no visible signs of issues, such as no wet ceiling tiles in these room, indicating the roof probably doesn’t leak right here.”
Baggarly highlight the Grand County EMS house located by the courthouse, saying it “is in poor condition, as you’re probably well aware of, but the library and the Grand Center and probably Star Hall are three facilities that are in very well, excellent, condition within the county.”
The current location of the Grand County Attorney’s Office and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office “has some special challenges,” he said.
In addition, the county council chamber at the courthouse is the only meeting space that is readily accessible for county staff.
“Now obviously the Grand Center, the library, and a few other facilities have (meeting space), but it’s not right here immediately adjacent for staff,” he said.
STAFFING RECOMMENDATIONS BY DEPARTMENT AND OPERATIONS
As part of the staffing analysis, Baggarly said Matrix Consulting Group looked at workload, meeting best practices and the current level of services provided by the county.
“Our recommendation is 161.8 full time equivalent employees in the county today, which is an increase of 11.5 funded positions in today’s budget,” he said, “and subsequently we look at projecting a workload and staffing needs out to 2024, and a total of 173 full time employees are needed, which is an increase of almost 23 full time positions in the county.”
Baggarly said most of the county departments have a need for a slight increase in staff for a half of a position or maybe one position, except for the Grand County Building Department.
“The building department needs a reduction in the number of authorized positions due to the City of Moab creating their own building inspections and permitting process,” Baggarly said. “That was about 50 percent of the workload of the building department. … (we) make a recommendation of reducing staff there moving forward.”
County departments where the number of staff is recommended to increase includes the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and Canyonlands Field Airport.
“The highest increase is actually for the sheriff’s office at nine and a half positions,” he said. “… Followed by the airport, which we’re making a recommendation of three additional positions, but that is on the assumption that air service and enplanements will increase at the airport to commercial airlines and go to operating six flights a day over about a 12- to 15-hour period.”
The three additional staff would help to “man the airport, offer assistance to emergency crews” and cover other necessary duties, he said.
The report also recommends for the Grand County Community and Economic Development Department to have an increase of two positions, but one of the positions “might not necessarily fall into community and economic development,” he said. “It is more of a code enforcement position.”
Baggarly said Matrix Consulting Group works with a variety of communities across the country.
“Code enforcement is one of those that has a home at a different department in every municipality that we work with,” he said. “It can be in their planning department, it could be in the building department or it could be under the sheriff’s office because it is regulatory. … If you were to incorporate a code enforcement position, you might want to look at where you want to put that.”
CENTRALIZED CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER
“Really looking out at 2024 space needs, you need about an additional 11,614-net square-feet, which is usable square feet,” Baggarly told the council. “We worked with the steering committee to look at some ways to development some options of how to address the 11,000-square-foot space issue.”
Baggarly said that one option “that makes pretty good sense, fits really well into this, is turning the courthouse here into more of a criminal justice/public safety center with moving the county attorney and the sheriff’s office into this facility.”
The report says the Grand County Attorney’s Office has had discussions with the City of Moab on the county prosecuting city misdemeanor cases. If an interlocal agreement is signed, one additional legal assistant would be required.
In addition, the report says in bold text, “The county attorney’s office should begin to track their caseload by type of offense.”
If growth and tourism continue at the current pace, the county attorney’s office may eventually need to hire a paralegal for handling the additional civil legal needs within the county, the report says.
Turning the courthouse into a centralized justice center will help to create the space required to meet the 2024 projection, Baggarly said, and would house the district court, justice court, highway patrol and police department.
“But, if you were to fill this building with criminal justice agencies, where would everybody else here go?” Baggarly asked. “And that would be the recommendation of the construction of a new administrative building that would house pretty much most of the departments that are here.”
Officials and other county departments that are currently in the courthouse, along with the Moab Area Travel Council, the Sand Flats Recreation Area administration “and a couple of other smaller groups,” would be moved to a new administration building.
“I did look at where that building could likely go,” Baggarly said. “It would go north of the (courthouse) building, with up to a 10,000-square-foot floor plan where the travel council and EMS house is now.”
Other recommended changes include consolidating the storage space for the sheriff’s office to one central location at the emergency operations center.
WHAT IS THIS GOING TO COST?
Baggarly said Matrix Consulting Group did estimates based on construction industry standards for square footage.
Currently in the Grand County area, construction costs are estimated to be somewhere in the $275 to $375 range per square foot.
“Between these five projects,” Baggarly said, “you’re looking at anywhere from $8.5 million to $10 million in 2019 dollars. … And obviously it costs a little bit more than that as you are designing the administrative building and the renovation.”
Baggarly said there could be an overlap in operations with the county and city and said there are multiple opportunities to collaborate on plan reviews and activity.
“Also, opportunities exist to transition your engineering contract services from a private provider to the city’s engineering department,” he said.
Consolidation of fleet maintenance, supply ordering, contractor vendor lists, and coordination between law enforcement agencies could help with staffing levels, he said.
He said consolidated regional use in land-use and development activities could even include more of northern San Juan County.
No formal decisions by the council were made about the recommendations.
Centralized justice center recommended
“If you were to incorporate a code enforcement position, you might want to look at where you want to put that.”