Board debates sheriff complex again

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK – On June 1, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors reviewed an altered plan for a new sheriff’s office building that contains 20 more square feet than the original proposal the board reviewed in the fall.

Jim Boyd and Patricia Jessee of Grimm and Parker Associates, the Charlottesville architecture firm that is planning the building, presented the new proposal.

Known as a “core building,” the 23,425-square-foot structure would contain the basic necessities the sheriff’s department would need to operate, including a records room, inmate processing section and office space.

It would be slightly larger than the 23,405-square-foot building the board considered during its last discussion on the subject in October.

The proposal would also be smaller than the “full building” that Grimm and Parker recommended, which measures 31,575 square feet and includes men’s and women’s locker rooms, more storage space and an evidence room. That version would cost more than $8 million to build.

The facility would house the sheriff’s office’s investigations, patrol and animal control divisions. They now operate in the basement of the Shenandoah County Circuit Courthouse, the former county jail and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Woodstock.

Construction of the core building is estimated to cost about $6.9 million, Boyd said. The sheriff’s office has about 75 percent of the funding in its asset forfeiture fund now, according to Sheriff Tim Carter.

In August, supervisors chose a 5-acre site at 818 N. Main St. in Woodstock to build the complex.

The funding had been included in the county’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget, but Carter withdrew the project from his department’s list of funding in April requests as a way to alleviate stress on supervisors and the county’s finances.

“I didn’t want to muddy the water of how we’re going to fund the fiscal 2018 budget,” Carter said on Thursday.

The board eventually passed a $62.4 million budget with more than $16 million for public safety.

Supervisor Cindy Bailey recommended that the majority of the current asset forfeiture fund, as well as any funds the county receives in the next fiscal year, be reserved for construction.

Carter objected to that idea because his office’s patrol cars and other equipment come from that fund as well.

“Our body cameras, technology and computers all come from asset forfeitures,” he said.

One detail still in dispute is whether to approve the core building, which would cost the county less in the short term and allow for gradual growth as needed, or the full building, which would cost more up front but provide more space right away.

Supervisor Steve Baker recommended that the full building be approved.

“If you do it piecemeal, it’s going to cost a lot more in the long run,” he said. “I’d like to see it done whole.”

Carter said that while he would prefer the full building, the bare necessities would do.

“It is head and shoulders above our current space, and we could live with it,” he said. “The question is what direction the county plans to go in.”

Whatever the board decides, Carter said, rising construction costs mean it should decide soon.

“Over the course of time, those costs are not going to decrease,” he said.

Blueprints for the core building will be ready for the board to review after Labor Day, Boyd said. The board will again take up the complex and possible funding options at its Sept. 7 work session.

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