Routt County pulls out of plans for shared law enforcement facility with city of Steamboat |

Routt County pulls out of plans for shared law enforcement facility with city of Steamboat

The Routt County Board of Commissioners informed Steamboat Springs City Council Monday it will withdraw from plans to develop a shared Routt County Sheriff's office and Steamboat Springs Police Department for the time being.
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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners has alerted Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill that it will withdraw from tentative plans to collaborate with the city to build a shared law enforcement facility at the site of the current county sheriff’s office and jail on Steamboat’s west side.

The project would have involved a significantly expanded sheriff’s office space and modern police facilities to replace a dated and cramped state in downtown Steamboat. The community could learn the fate of that concept as soon as January, when Magill intends to place the question of how to proceed on a work session agenda.

The latest iteration of the plan involved the possibility of asking voters to approve a temporary county-wide half-cent sales tax to fund the building, as the county has no reserves committed to expansion of the sheriff’s office.

Corrigan said Tuesday that a shared facility still makes sense to him, but he and fellow commissioners Cari Hermacinski and Doug Monger concluded that the mood of the public right now, coupled with the possibility of there being other tax questions on the ballot in November, suggests the timing is not favorable.

“It’s fair to say that collectively, we are not very sanguine (optimistic) about the possibility of a tax passing,” Corrigan said. “When you think about the difficulty the (Steamboat Springs) school district had in passing their (property) tax, and you look at the controversy surrounding the police department, my view is that passing any kind of tax increase is going to be difficult. I don’t perceive the community support is there right now.”

Corrigan added that all of the feedback he has received from constituents has been unfavorable to the tax.

Whether the school district is ready to go back to the voters in 2016, the renewal of the 0.25 percent city sales tax to support air service is almost certain to be on the ballot. The fiscal health of the operations budget at the county-owned Yampa Valley Regional Airport depends to a degree on the airline program.

Corrigan said he views the county’s changed outlook on the shared law enforcement facility as a timeout, allowing them to re-think how the two governments could move forward.

Magill signaled he leans toward moving on from the shared facility.

“The city still has money saved. We have $8 million set aside,” Magill said. “When you look back at the work the committee did, they had another site, south of the Hampton Inn (on U.S. Highway 40). We’d have to purchase that property, but to me, the second choice would be the (Stockbridge) transit center on property we have there.”

He said Tuesday that a shared facility was the preferred option, but not the only option, recommended by a citizens committee assembled to advise the last city council on how to proceed after several years of frustration.

“It didn’t say it has to be a joint facility,” Magill said. “I think we still need a facility. “It’s still in the council goals. This is a new council. But the last council, in my mind, saw the need for an upgrade.”

In October, the county engaged a specialized architectural firm, McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie Inc., which has already done work for the city, to produce a conceptual plan for the anticipated shared facility at a cost of $32,500.

Corrigan said Tuesday that there was some sticker shock on the part of the commissioners stemming from a report from MWL that concluded the county needed to double the existing 6,700 square feet in the current sheriff’s office at a cost of $5 million to $6 million.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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