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Dave Olson, Published February 17 2009

Clay County officials get updated look at plans for new jail, grapple with costs

Clay County officials today got a good look at what a new jail might look like, but were left with a big question: how to pay for it when governments everywhere are cutting budgets?

The present jail, which can house about 98 prisoners, regularly sends inmates to other counties because of overcrowding.

Clay County Administrator Vijay Sethi said the board must now compare the cost of transporting and housing prisoners elsewhere with the potential cost of a new jail/law enforcement center, pegged Tuesday at between approximately $27 million and about $34 million.

Under proposals presented today, the city of Moorhead's share of the law enforcement center work would be between $4.3 million and $4.9 million.

Sethi said county officials will now have to meet with the county’s financial adviser to discuss potential funding sources for the project, such as a bond issue, and the potential impact on property taxes.

Bruce Omtvedt, an architect with the Twins Cities firm of Klein McCarthy Architects, told Clay County commissioners that one positive aspect of the present economic downturn is that construction companies are offering competitive rates to do projects.

He said each year the county waits before embarking on a project could add $1 million to the cost.

See Wednesday’s Forum for details.