Joint County Committee Continues Bismarck Jail Planning

BISMARCK, N.D. —Burleigh and Morton county officials voted in favor of the construction agreement needed for the two counties to build a $70 million jail together at a joint county committee meeting last month. It is the first of three contracts the separate commissions must approve to begin construction on the 475-inmate facility in Bismarck.

The tentative agreement specifies that building costs will be shared with Burleigh County paying 87 percent and Morton County paying the other 13 percent, reported the Bismarck Tribune. It also set caps on how new construction changes will be decided during the building process. Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert would make decisions for smaller building change orders, a joint county building committee would approve mid-range construction changes and each county commission would approve larger revisions to costs. It was also agreed that Burleigh County would be the lead agency in the construction projects and operating the future facility. The joint county committee will be the first to approve the construction contract, followed by the separate Burleigh and Morton county commissions.

Each county will pay for their share of construction costs with a half-cent sales tax, scheduled to start being collected on Oct. 1, that voters from each county approved on June 10. The joint county committee will also draft a memorandum of understanding agreement between the two counties defining each county’s responsibilities and an operations agreement for when the jail is occupied. Each sales tax will end when all of the jail building costs are paid in full.

The two counties state’s attorneys will draft the final language of each agreement before each county commission votes on them. Building costs for the jail will be paid by the half-cent sales tax and jail operation costs would be paid for by each county’s property taxes, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

UBL Design Group, based in Bismarck, in cooperation with New York-based Venture Architects presented design plans for the new jail in April. The five core buildings in the jail design separates the inmate population into minimum-security, medium-security, maximum-security and special needs. Plans to start construction on the project are scheduled for as early as the fall, with plans for the jail to be occupied by early 2017.