2/9/2017 1:27:00 PM County hoping for State jail funding
The new Chisago County jail and public safety offices project is approaching the halfway point. The county has expended about $10 million, and is sitting at about a $14 million balance to finish the project.
The project is funded with two locally supported bond sales (one received in 2016 and one this year) at approximately $10 million a piece. The rest of the project costs are covered by redirecting budget savings and other non-levy revenues.
County Commmissioners continue to beat the bushes in St Paul for some financial help with this project, but Chisago County is not hiring an outside professional lobbyist like it did in the last legislative session. The state legislature ended its last session without action on bonding needs, so Chisago had lots of company walking away empty-handed from St Paul.
County Administrator Bruce Messelt recently told the County Board for this legislative session, “Everybody starts from scratch.” He said Chisago has re-submitted basically the same request in a new session bill, Messelt explained. Because this is not a usual Minnesota bonding year the request is also going in as a direct appropriation.
Chisago County directed lobbyists to be hired to help get some state bonding aid because the new Law Enforcement Center is mainly being pursued to avoid state sanctions on the existing jail that corrections officials have determined is obsolete for its current use. Chisago County faced downgrade of the jail to a holding facility only, if progress wasn’t made on a new facility.
The County Board got the bonding bill update while reviewing legislative actions supported by the Association of MN Counties during the last Board meeting. They were also told that Senator Mark Koran has agreed to be on a Board agenda later and other legislators are being invited. Chisago County has Brian Johnson and Bob Dettmer representing it in the MN House (the third House representative will be elected in the Dist 32B special vote Feb 14) and Sen. Karin Housley and Koran both represent parts of Chisago county.
Some county commissioners toured the jail site on the east edge of Center City, January 26.
Board Chair Montzka commented that it is an impressive structure, “solid and secure” in appearance.