Committee formed to study possible Co. Jail expansion

The Platte County Commission has decided to get moving on a report stating the Platte County Detention Center requires a substantial expansion. At its regular session Monday, the Commissioners announced the formation of a nine-member jail advisory committee. Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown said he would search for three members across the county, with each of the district commissioners also choosing three each from their own districts. The Commission hopes to get the committee in place by the end of May to hold meetings in June, July and August. Last month, the Sheriff’s Department sent out a request for bids for engineering and architectural services for a possible jail expansion. A separate committee made up of Sheriff’s Department staff will pick the top three contenders to bring to the Commissioners for further consideration. A jail expansion study conducted last year by Weber and Associates recommended that due to projected population growth and other factors, the County would need a 300-350 bed jail facility over the next 20 years. Weber and Associates projected a potential cost of up to $20 million, though it was a very preliminary estimate. Also at the meeting, the Platte County Assessor sought and received approval to purchase commercial and residential real estate assessment software. The computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) software. Assessor David Cox said state statute requires the assessor to check all properties within the county every odd year, but over the last several years only five to 10 percent have been reassessed every assessment year. Cox said the software purchase would simplify and standardize the assessment process and would allow the County to avoid the expense of hiring three additional professional assessors at about $150,000 per year annually. The software purchase will cost $160,000 for the first five years and about $14,000 per year after that for the licensing fee. Brown said the question of whether or not to purchase CAMA software has come up a few times over the years, even under the previous assessor. In the past, he said other offices which could be impacted by a software change have had concerns. Cox said Collector Sheila Palmer had submitted a letter in support of the software and though County Clerk Joan Harms had not, she was aware of the proposed changes. Brown noted Harms was out of the office due to a family emergency.