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County Council rejects jail contract for second time

Carroll County Commissioners signed a second contract with CCI builders at their Nov. 4 meeting after builder Jack Krause made slight changes to his proposal. Approval to fund the contract fell to the County Council at their Nov. 21 meeting. A majority of the Council voted not to pay for the first contract earlier this fall. Concerns with the contractual agreement remain for a majority of the Council last Thursday.

Council President Josh Plue told his fellow Council members that the only material change from the first contract is the overall cost for CCI’s services was reduced from 5% to 4.75%. Plue said the 4.75% charge is paid on the total project cost, which is unknown. He said he would not vote to fund the contract because no bids for services were taken and there is no guarantee for a final cost and it is unfair for Carroll County taxpayers to hold all of the financial risk with no guarantee. He added some construction managers only charge a 3.5% fee for similar jobs.

Council member Ethan Brown said he does not see the problem with the contract or the situation. He said the longer the approval process continues, “the more it will cost.”

“I just want to keep the ball rolling,” Brown said.

Council member Lawrence “Doc” Stauffer agreed with Brown.

Council member Paul Rider asked why Krause is “getting more” than other construction managers across the state.

Tim Ratcliff said he does not know what would be a competitive charge because there were no bids taken for the service.

Council member Scott Ayres asked how it was determined that a 112-bed jail is what is needed for Carroll County. He said, if the current plan is approved, the county will triple the size of the current facility. Ayres asked if the planned jail size is completely necessary.

“I think the public needs to look at the size of the scope,” he said.

Plue said the state dictates the jail is at peak capacity at 80% of the total beds, which in this case would require 89 beds.

A motion to approve funding the most recent contract was made by Brown and was seconded by Stauffer for the purpose of discussion. When the vote was final, Brown and Stauffer were the only two who voted to fund the contract. Rider, Plue, Ratcliff, Ayres and Tracy Martin voted against the motion. Ayres said there needs to be another meeting with Commissioners and Council to try to resolve differences.

Council attorney Eric Burns suggested the Council be prepared with an outline in the form of a resolution to clarify what would be acceptable for them to approve in a contract with Krause.

Council members decided to meet Dec. 2 at 4:30 p.m. and invite Commissioners to discuss the situation. However, it was learned Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 26) that the Commissioners have declined the offer to meet with the Council. It was unclear at press time whether the Council still intends to meet.

Other business

A proposed job description for an investigator in the prosecutor’s office was approved. The proposed salary for the position is $45,000. Plue advised Human Resources Consultant Kent Irwin recommended a slightly lower salary for the position. In addition, it was determined any equipment the person hired for the position needs will be funded from one of the prosecutor’s budgets.

The 1782 notice for 2020, which is the state budget recommendation form, was approved. The form sets out the final information for the taxing unit, including proposed revenue and levy and budget adjustments. The amount advertised for the General Fund, $7,984,489, was approved but the tax rate was reduced due to increased assessed valuation. Two other funds, Reassessment and Health, were reduced from what was submitted because they were advertised at a lower rate. The expected maximum tax revenue is $3,911,270. The estimated revenue from other revenue, such as court costs, receipts, earning on investments, ambulance fees, etc. is $3,753,568.

Plue advised the amount for the lawsuit appeal against a judgement from a Marion Superior Court about the release of the 911 recording from the fatal fire in Flora three years ago will likely be costly. He called the cost for the decision made by the Commissioners to pursue the matter a “wild card.”

Council member Brown reported Coroner Kristen Enoch is concerned about the mold in the morgue building in Camden. He said she wants the county to consider purchasing a property just outside of Camden for the morgue location.

The next regularly scheduled County Council meeting will be Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.

A recorded video of this meeting can be found on YouTube on the “Debbie Lowe” channel.