Thurston County's new $45 million satellite jail might have tenants next year after all.
But they won’t be inmates.
During a meeting Thursday with Sheriff’s Office leaders, the county commission advised staff members to look into moving the patrol division into the Accountability and Restitution Center’s administrative area. The county also will check the cost of permits to retrofit the ARC’s dormitories to potentially accommodate the correctional options program, which includes day jail and electric home monitoring, and work release.
Details on the potential move are expected to be formally presented to the commission and Sheriff-elect John Snaza in January, county manager Don Krupp said.
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“There are a lot of advantages to doing this,” he said of the proposal, adding that it could save the county $128,000 by 2013.
The patrol division, which also responds to emergencies and investigations and provides traffic enforcement, has about 54 personnel at Building 5, near the county courthouse complex. A move to the 9,000-square-foot administrative area in the ARC would be simple and quick as long as the facility’s electronics systems were ready to go, Undersheriff Brad Watkins said.
No cost estimate was given.
The move would ensure a 24-hour presence at the ARC and allow the county to move other departments out of leased space and into building space left vacant by patrol.
One major downside to the potential move is the eventual need to vacate the building once it opens as a jail, which still has no timeline. Krupp said the 3400 Building could be a possible landing spot for patrol but that other options will be explored.
Krupp added that it was important the commission and the sheriff “moved together” on ARC uses before final decisions were made.
Other proposals for the ARC could take a little longer to develop.
The options/work-release program uses a trailer near the exisiting jail that has “exhausted its useful life,” Krupp said. He proposed that the ARC’s large, open dormitory spaces could be used to house people in the program.
However, that move would require retrofitting, which could cost $300,000 – $90,000 of which would be spent on items such as lockers and computers that would have a continued life beyond the temporary use. Three additional correctional officers also would need to be hired, at a total cost of about $240,000 annually.
The commission was more hesitant on this proposal, telling staff members to see how much it will cost to apply for a conditional-use permit before making any decision. Other buildings at the Mottman campus also will be reviewed as potential locations for work release.
An annex building near the ARC that eventually will house jail-related operations might also be leased out, but more information on timelines and who the county can legally lease the space to still must be worked out.
The City of Tumwater may still submit a proposal to use the facility for its Police Department, though Krupp acknowledged that a longer-term use might not be feasible.
Despite the talk of interim uses for the facility, commissioners and Snaza made one thing clear: The goal should be to get the ARC functioning as a jail.
“This is all fine for now,” Commissioner Karen Valenzuela said of the interim uses, adding that she wants the facility to be functioning as a jail by 2012.
Snaza echoed Valenzuela’s sentiments, saying he looked forward to working with staffers to see what could be done to occupy the ARC.
“It would be nice to have a game plan for it,” he said.
After the meeting, Snaza said he’ll dig in deeper on the ARC once his term as sheriff begins, adding it was important to weigh the cost benefit before moving forward.