Tuesday night the Mercer County Board discussed moving courthouse services to the Mercer County Jail Annex.
“There are a lot of things this building needs, I don’t think we should be putting money into it. That’s not my decision, in the long run, it’s the board’s,” said Mercer County Board Chairman Carlos Sarabasa, R-Aledo.
Among the long list of items that need attention are, bringing the building up to code, ADA compliance, a new roof, boiler repairs, and so on. Estimates from 2015 total roughly 9.8 million dollars. “That’s not starting change orders as soon as you break into one of these old buildings,” Said Sarabasa.
According to Mercer County Building Commissioner Montie Schell the elevator, installed in 1967, was only expected to have a 20-30 year life. In January, he told the board the elevator has been an issue since he could remember.
“Right now, (we’re) just beginning the conversation and trying to get some direction,” Sarabasa said.
The estimate to properly fix the machinery is upward of $250,000 to $300,000, he said.
“There’s (also) abatement that has to be done because there’s asbestos in this building that’s never been done.”
He said the board was "agreeable" to look into costs to relocate key functions to the Mercer County Jail Annex, across the street west from the Sheriff’s Department and jail.
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According to Sarabasa, they can’t build a new facility, but it may be possible, “to reallocate funding and possibly build a courtroom, some offices, take evidence lockers out of the annex, put them in the jail. We haven’t done any due diligence yet. We’re going to be talking to some contractors.”
In other business, the board is moving forward in their interest to implement time clock software to integrate how employee hours are calculated with their current payroll system.
The board set up a meeting with a possible software provider in the coming weeks. Sarabasa said the current system uses a lot of unnecessary manpower, “If you’re a county employee, you’re writing down your hours, giving them to a supervisor, to a department head. ... (and) going to the clerk to do pay out — another step of checks and balances.”
Mercer County Sheriff Dusty Terrill told the board the additional out-of-county inmates are generating, “substantial additional revenue.” He estimates they are bringing in between $150,000 to $200,000 based on 33 average daily population of inmates from other jurisdictions - currently, they have 43 out-of-county inmates, and 19 local inmates.
“Which is pretty close to where we can be with current staffing levels; we have to maintain a safe secure facility,” said Terrill. He said if the average daily population reaches 75 it would add an additional $50,000 in inmate medical costs, as well as costs to hire additional staff.
“I’m trying to ride that fine line, the most income into the county, with the least amount of expenditure at the same time.”
In other news, Buck Rind, R-Sherrard, District 3, resigned from the board. His seat is up in December 2022. The Republican party will present a candidate to fill the seat at next month's board meeting.
The board appointed Linda Koepke to District 3 Board seat vacated by Ron Fullerlove, R-Sherrard, in August when he accepted the full-time position of County Administrator. The term will be up for a vote in December 2020.