QUINCY — The Adams County Board plans to proceed with building a new jail downtown without financial assistance from the city of Quincy.
In a surprising about-face, the board voted 11-10 Tuesday night to reject an intergovernmental agreement approved the night before by the City Council that would have enabled the Quincy Police Department to lease space in the new facility.
The agreement called for the city to provide $4.2 million for construction, $1 a year for 20 years to lease police space, $250,000 to move utilities and $570,000 for the reconstruction of Parking Lot D on the south side of Vermont east of Sixth Street.
However, board members were divided on whether the city should pay an additional $60,000 a year for 20 years to cover maintenance costs. The agreement approved by the council Monday night had the county picking up those costs.
“All the members of the Finance Committee voted against it, our (County Board) chairman voted against it,” said Jail Exploratory Committee Chairman Mark Peter, R-5. “So I would think we just need to move the project forward considering it will just be a county-only project.”
County Board Chairman Les Post, R-6, cast the deciding vote. He believes the board would have
approved a deal that called for the city to pay for police maintenance costs, but said he could not support a plan opposed by the entire Finance Committee and residents in his northeast Adams County district.
“They voted to build a jail and not a police station,” Post said. “I could have voted either way, but in the end I voted for the constituents and based on the finances.”
The vote came after a 30-minute executive session. However, board members were unanimous that the jail still should be built on the east side of the courthouse and extend east across Sixth Street along Vermont in an L-shaped fashion.
The plan requires the city vacating a portion of Sixth Street and the county being able to buy and demolish two properties on the east side of Sixth Street and two more on Vermont.
That option for a 192-bed jail at the courthouse is projected to cost about $28 million, or about $3 million more than the county has budgeted. That’s why the county entered into talks with the city about a partnership that would have helped shoulder those costs and allowed Quincy police to be part of the new facility. The jail committee initially said that was the only way the plan could move forward.
“The jail committee will have to take this up again,” Peter said. “The first thing to do is to try and acquire the property, and if we can get that done within a price range that is reasonable, we’ll move forward from there.”
Finance Committee Chairman Duane Venvertloh, R-7, said the city’s deal was not equitable for the county.
“We still want to build (the jail) here,” he said. “We just don’t need the extra (financial) risk. They’re taking more off the table than they are bringing to it. That’s my opinion.”
Jeff Goodale of Chicago-based HOK, the county’s design firm, said the plan will likely have to be scaled back to fit within the county’s budget, perhaps by reducing the number of beds.
“It’s range of beds somewhere from 168 to 192,” Goodale said. “Certainly the plans will take future expansion in any case, because we don’t know what the trends will be in the future. We’re comfortable that we can make the project work here.”
Mayor Kyle Moore attended the meeting and was disappointed with the board’s decision.
“The county’s budget is 60 percent supported with city taxpayers, so the city is already picking up a large tab of the jail,” Moore said. “I think this is a unique moment in history where we can partner together and show everybody is on the same team.
“It certainly made sense with this opportunity while they were building office space to say ‘Hey, can we team up?’ Not only does it make sense because it gets all law enforcement in one building, but it saves money for taxpayers. Ten years down the road, the city is going to have to look at building new evidence storage, building a new location with booking and a sally port.”