LIMA — Allen County Commissioners have entered into a $6.8 million contract to begin construction of the new juvenile detention center on Cole Street. The 20,303-square foot facility will replace the current building, which Allen County Juvenile Division Court Administrator Berlin Carroll said has been deteriorating due to water damage and building systems reaching the end of their usefulness.
Peterson Construction, of Wapakoneta, won the bid. Carroll said the project should break ground sometime in May and would be finished in roughly 14 months, or by July 2019.
The state has dedicated $3.4 million to the project, and the county has to pay for the remaining 50 percent. Currently, county commissioners are looking at the 0.2 percent sales tax levy on the May ballot to pay for the capital expense, but if voters decide against the sales tax increase, Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg said the county would “borrow money from itself.”
Begg is referring to the practice of the treasurer’s office purchasing bonds from the auditor’s office, who is responsible for financing county projects.
Similar moves have happened in the past. Allen County Treasurer Rachael Gilroy named at least four different instances when the county provided funds to the engineer’s office for infrastructure projects.
Over the long run, however, the purchasing of county bonds by the treasurer’s office would lock up funds in the county’s budget. It also would cost more for the taxpayers than the proposed sales increase, Carroll said.
The new building has also been designed to have lower operating costs than the current facility due to increased efficiencies, which should save more money over time.
The new Juvenile Detention Center is one of four primary building projects outlined in Allen County’s capital improvement plan to be funded by the proposed sales tax increase on the May ballot. The building’s construction, however, has not been contingent on the passing of the levy, Begg said, as the project had been planned prior to the inception of the county’s capital improvement plan.
The other primary projects that would be funded by the 10-year sales tax increase would include a new facility for the Allen County Engineer’s Office, a county administrative office building and renovation of the Allen County Courthouse.
The new Juvenile Detention Center would have the same number of beds overall, 26, as the current facility, but the two of those 26 would be a medical intake bed and an isolation intake bed.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.