By Katie Dahlstrom Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Determining if Clinton police could share space with a new Clinton County Sheriffs, communications and jail facility will cost the city $8,760, a price council members have tentatively agreed to pay.
During the Clinton City Council’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, council members unanimously decided to move forward as part of an assessment spearheaded by the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission. Final approval will come during a council meeting in two weeks.
The assessment will answer a number of questions about sheriff’s office, jail, communication center facilities such as size, staffing and other pre-architectural quandaries. In the end, officials will have an idea of what a new facility would cost and if bringing city and county facilities together would be more efficient.
“That doesn’t commit the city to building anything anytime soon, but we could put in the infrastructure on the county side if the project moves forward that allows for expansion,” Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission Coordinator Brian McKenrick said.
The Clinton County Board of Supervisors on Monday awarded the contract for the assessment to Moline, Ill., architecture and engineering firm Shive Hattery. The Clinton County Communications commission has also agreed to participate.
The assessment will cost $53,513 with the CCJC covering $30,005, the Clinton County Communications Commission paying $14,748 and the remainder coming from the city of Clinton.
The city’s $8,760 share will come from the general fund’s contingency account, leaving the balance at $25,631.
“I think for that amount, to be able to go to the taxpayers and say we’re looking at every option, I think that’s worth it,” McKenrick added.
When the CCJCC issued the request for proposal, in addition to an option for the county communications department, it asked respondents to include bid on an option to review the Clinton Police Department, which is now housed in a rented building. The firm would review a study done in 2003 on the police department, identify deficiencies and recommend any areas of consolidation that could be considered between the city and the county facilities.
“We threw it in kind of towards the end as we were going to get this RFP out to provide an option for the city depending on how the cost came back for you to consider the project and explore the ways the city and county can work together in this as we have on so many other projects,” McKenrick told council members.
McKenrick also explained how critical the Clinton County jail is to the city.
Clinton residents accounted for 59 percent of all bookings in the Clinton County Jail during fiscal year 2013. In the most recent quarter, the jail population was 75 percent Clinton residents, McKenrick said.
Without a local jail, the city would have paid up to $62,280 to house those inmates in neighboring counties, not including the cost of transportation.
The assessment should be complete by November. With the assessment in hand, officials will then seek public input before putting a referendum before voters for a new facility.
“We know that we need something,” McKenrick said. “But what we need, there are still a lot of questions that need answered before we can go to the taxpayers and let them know.”