Tri-county juvenile facility downsized due to escalating costs

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors last week signed off on a change to the proposed new Tri-Counties Juvenile Detention Facility in Marysville, a regional facility that will house juveniles from Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba counties.

The item was added to last Tuesday’s agenda as an urgent matter, which came to Colusa County CAO Wendy Tyler’s attention the Friday night before the board meeting, after the agenda had been posted.

According to Tyler, the estimated cost for building the facility has soared by more than 20 percent, from an original estimate of $18 million to the current estimate of $24 million. Tyler added that Colusa, Yuba and Sutter county had all lobbied the state for additional funding for construction, but were told that “there simply isn’t funding there.”

Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba counties first joined together to construct a new jointly operated juvenile hall back in 2013. Colusa County was initially approved for a $5.6 million grant for a new juvenile facility in 2010, but proposed the joint facility with Sutter and Yuba counties because of their low number of offenders. Yuba County was awarded a state grant of $9.6 million in the summer of 2015.

Under a joint powers agreement, the three counties agreed to split the construction costs, with Sutter and Yuba counties each covering 40 percent and Colusa covering 20 percent.
Last week, Tyler said that Colusa County’s 20 percent share of the increased cost alone would be $1.2 million, and said that the counties were advised to submit a revised scope for the project to bring costs down.

The initial plans called for three pods of 16 beds each, as well as classrooms, interview rooms, a visitation area, and locker rooms. Under the revised plans that were approved by the board last week, the facility will be downsized to just two pods. Each will still have 16 beds, bringing the total number of beds down to 32 from 48. Even with those changes, Colusa County will still see an increase in cost over the initial estimate.

“There would still be an increased cost of $130,000 (for Colusa County),” Tyler said.
Colusa County Chief Probation Officer Bill Fenton told the board that the state was OK with the downsizing, and said that the footprint for the facility would still be for three pods – the third just wouldn’t be built. Fenton added that the 32-bed facility would have met the needs of the county over the prior three years. Fenton also said that it was possible the additional $130,000 could come out of the Probation Department’s budget, rather than the county’s general fund.

The change of scope will go before the Board of State and Community Corrections for approval during their Nov. 8 meeting, Tyler said, which was the last opportunity for the counties to get approval for construction in 2019.

“We have to get a shovel in the ground for this project in 2019. Absolutely have to,” Tyler told the board. “This is a project that is being brought to the very forefront of their attention.”

Supervisor John Loudon made the motion to authorize Tyler to sign off on the changes, which was seconded by Denise Carter. The motion carried unanimously.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net