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Valley Citizen
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Justice Center cost increases
January 09, 2013

Commissioners disagree on idea of fiscal responsibility

At the final Teton County Commissioner meeting on Christmas Eve, a motion was made to approve a $2.6M guaranteed maximum cost for constructing a new law enforcement center for the county in Driggs on the site of the old school district building.

Commissioner Kelly Park objected to the motion and voted against it, suggesting that other options should be considered before moving forward.

“I know my fellow commissioners put a lot of time and effort into building on the proposed site, but if we can save tax payers even $200K, then we should go that route,” Park said this Wednesday. “When the price tag started going over the $2M mark, that was a red flag for me. I didn’t vote to approve this because maybe there’s something else available out there.”

Draft meeting minutes from the Christmas Eve quorum of county commissioners detail frustration with Park from Commissioners Kathy Rinaldi and Bob Benedict after their fellow commissioner suggested looking at other options like the old Ford garage north of Driggs.

“Chairman Rinaldi said Commissioner Park should have spoken out last summer,” according to draft meeting minutes. “She asked where funds would come from to re-investigate other options. Commissioner Benedict said timing is critical and a delay at this time would prevent Ormond from bidding the project (this winter) in order to obtain the lowest possible bids. This will only result in more costs to be paid by taxpayers.”

Despite the time and effort that the county has put into purchasing the property at 210 North Main in Driggs where its new law enforcement center is to be built, Park objected to the fact that an incomplete set of blueprints were used when considering the initial bid for the project.

“My objection to the whole process is that they didn’t have a complete set of blueprints during bidding.” Park said. “It just bugs the heck out of me that we went this route. Evidently, the estimates made in the past were not correct.”

Draft meeting minutes suggest that Ormond Construction and JHS Architects offered a $2.26M estimate in July, followed by discussion of an increased estimate of $2.58M at November and December BOCC meetings.

Following the vote, Park said he voted nay because he believed the BOCC had a fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer to watch every cent spent and that other options should have been explored when the project cost exceeded the funds available, according to draft meeting minutes. Commissioner Benedict said Commissioner
Park should have brought these concerns up many months ago instead of wasting taxpayer money designing the building and delaying the project at the last minute. Chairman Rinaldi said everyone must be clear about the issues involved and stressed that the county has sufficient funds to build the law enforcement center.

Teton County Clerk Mary Lou Hansen confirmed Wednesday that $325K was transferred at the December 24 BOCC meeting from the general fund into the building fund to cover any increased costs associated with construction of the law enforcement center.



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