SAGUACHE — Sheriff Dan Warwick addressed Saguache County Commissioners at their regular meeting June 25 to request funds to advertise for architects willing to bid on the creation of draft plans and estimated costs for a new county jail.
“They have been busy and no one has been able to get the ad out, but they said they would have it out at the end of the week,” Warwick said during a phone interview last Wednesday.
The issue is time-sensitive because all funding and matching grant requests must first go before commissioners for approval before finalization. Only after any funding has been approved will the Saguache Sheriff’s Office know if an additional bond or sunset tax request will need to be placed on the ballot in 2020.
Ballot measure deadlines must be met several months before the November 2020 election.
The first request to voters for additional funding to help build the jail was turned down in 2016. The sales tax funding request for the jail was approved last November, but Warwick cautioned that that money in itself will not even come close to what is needed to build a new jail.
“The facility was never intended to be built from the safety tax,” Warwick pointed out. He explained that while some funding from the tax might help with preliminary plans, the entire project will need to come from other funding, noting that if there are any grants available for the entire scope of the jail project, he is not aware of them.
So far the sheriff’s office has received about 25 percent of the projected $100,000 sales tax amount raised by the county from the measure passed in 2018. Available funding has been used to purchase much needed equipment for deputies and other employees. Another $20,000 is earmarked to set up a satellite office in Crestone.
Replacing outdated computers for the entire jail and sheriff’s office staff will cost another $17,000, Warwick explained, calling it “a pricey ordeal.” But the new equipment is necessary because soon current software will expire, so it will no longer support programs needed to conduct day-to-day business.
Initially Warwick planned to also build an exercise yard for jail inmates, but County Administrator Glen Simpson said bids on the yard were so high the county should direct those funds to a new jail instead. Warwick said he and Simpson have not had time to meet very often due to scheduling conflicts.
The entire $100,000 amount won’t be received until the end of the year, but Warwick says he doesn’t want to start “spending like crazy,” because funds need to be set aside for new patrol cars and other unanticipated expenses. Some of the remaining funds could also be used for matching grants to help build the new jail, he added.