Jail Project Making Progress

A sign on property at 800 E. Pacific Avenue in Salina is proof of progress on a project to build a new Saline County Jail.

According to  Saline County, many folks in the community asked about the location of the new jail and Sheriff’s Office, so staff and consultants worked to get the parcel marked.

Wheat has now been harvested off the site, and the property boundaries have been staked. Temporary fencing will start appearing on the site soon in anticipation of the beginning of construction this fall.

The County Commission will be considering two significant actions to move the project forward at their Tuesday, July 13, meeting.

The first will be authorization to move from the design development phase of the project into the construction documents phase and preparation of the Guaranteed Maximum Price contract for Phase 1 of construction. While the design team will continue to be involved in the project through completion, these items essentially mark the “hand-off” between the design and construction of the project.

The architectural team has now delivered 700+ pages of drawings and specifications to the County in preparation for this hand-off.

The second big item on the County Commission agenda is a decision to move forward with the issuance of bonds to pay for the project. While voters authorized up to $89.655 million in bonds at the election last November, the staff is recommending issuing only $75 million at this time. A second series of bonds, if needed, would be issued in 2023. If approved by Commissioners on Tuesday, the bond sale for the first $75 million would occur on August 5 and funds would be delivered to the County approximately August 26. This time frame aligns well with when payments would start to come due for construction activities.

Payments on the bonds, first due in March of 2022, would be made from the special ½-cent sales tax also approved by voters in November 2020. This sales tax increase went into effect April 1, 2021, and the County received the first distribution of funds (from the month of April) at the end of June. The new sales tax generated over $610,000 in April, which is being held in a special account until needed for bond repayment.

The new jail project was approved by voters in the November 3rd election. The one-half percent sales tax to pay for the new building was enacted on April 1st. Groundbreaking is planned for the fall, with project completion slated for the fall of 2023.