Franklin County is moving forward on an expanded county jail that officials say will help keep the public safe.
County voters gave the county the dollars to create more space to house inmates in November when 61 percent approved a public safety sales tax.
On Wednesday, commissioners unanimously amended their contract with LCA+ph Architects of Seattle to allow the firm to complete the final design of the project and take it through construction.
The firm will receive almost $1.4 million from the county for the service, said Fred Bowen, county administrator.
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Pasco has hired the same firm for $220,000 to design the Pasco Municipal Court space that will be included in the expansion. That was approved Feb. 6 by the Pasco City Council.
The 0.3 percent public safety sales tax voters approved in November will pay for adding Pasco Municipal Court space, a Pasco police station, gang suppression and the new and remodeled county jail.
The county receives 60 percent of the revenue, and the rest will be divided among Franklin County cities based on their population.
The 0.3 percent public safety sales tax will be collected beginning April 1. But Bowen said the county won't receive the $17 million to $18 million that will be bonded for the project until June. The first bond payment will be due in December, and the county should have accrued enough from the sales tax to pay it.
The county is bonding for two-thirds of its share of the sales tax revenue, which will be used for construction of the new jail, Bowen said. The other one-third will be used to pay for operations and maintenance of the expanded jail.
The design for the expanded jail is meant to limit operation and maintenance costs. The two-tiered building will have cell blocks arranged in a wheel around a small area where the overhead master control booth hangs. An officer inside it would control the interlocked doors and monitor the cells by sight and video.
Construction should start in late summer and will take 16 to 18 months to finish both phases, Bowen said. The expanded jail will be built first, then inmates will be moved from the current jail to the expansion so the remodel of the existing jail can take place.
The expanded jail will be north of the current jail, with a two-story administration building that may have Pasco Municipal Court on the first floor and the sheriff's office, information services and dispatch center on the second floor. The administration building will face Fourth Avenue and feature brick and mortar similar to the county courthouse.
Bowen said he thinks the architects have done a good job matching the appearance of the expanded jail to the county courthouse in the preliminary design.
The expanded jail will eat into part of a vacated street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. That portion of the street will be taken out, and the parking lot will be extended to the north, Bowen said.
There will be a secured parking lot for sheriff's deputy vehicles and employee parking behind Atomic Foods, he said.