The Rice County Board of Commissioners met as a Committee of the Whole for a work session today.  They appeared to be in favor of retaining the services of the architectural firm Klein McCarthy of St. Louis Park to work on the new Jail/Law Enforcement Center.

Parks and Facilities Director Matthew Verdick told Commissioners they had two options. Continue with the firm they've been working with which specializes in justice centers or go out for proposals.  He said doing proposals would add 8 to 9 weeks to the project and an additional approximate $400,000.  "Every two weeks that we wait will add another $125,000 in costs to the project."

The firm worked with the Jail/LEC Study Committee recently.  County Board representatives on the committee Steve Underdahl and Dave Miller said they felt comfortable with the firm's work.

Commissioner Galen Malecha wanted to do a request for proposal saying, "I don't trust the numbers that Klein McCarthy puts into the jail study.  You look at some of those numbers to what the Steele County study had come up with, Klein McCarthy's numbers were considerably way off."

Verdick said the firm was "unbiased" in his opinion.  " They never pushed us in a direction.  I've worked with some firms that will push you in a certain direction. Kind of decide for you what you want to do.  I thought they were, even when you added more options and kept adding more options they really left it up to the board to make the decision."

Miller added, "Klein and McCarthy did a very good job of helping us through this process over the past year.  I feel very comfortable with them.  I think we'll get a good project out of them."

Malecha repeated his complaint that Commissioners not on the Jail Studies Committee were not kept in the loop.  "I asked the administrator, I asked the sheriff and I asked the two of you who were appointed to the jail committee for information to be brought forward to the full board.  When you're dealing with 49 million dollars and it's other people's money I represent people as well as the rest of you and I think we need to be informed about how the process is going and how we're moving forward."

It was a committee meeting so no formal vote was taken.  That will probably be done at the next board meeting.

Verdick also suggested forming a committee to examine future downtown building plans for the buildings owned the county.  He said the City of Faribault would like to know what the plans are.  City Administrator Tim Murray will be asked to be part of the committee.

Is this the first of many to come?

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