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Discussion continues on new sheriff’s office facility

Plan, financing in place for new complex by Garrett Fuller | February 22, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — The Moniteau County Sheriff's Office moved into the former Mid Mo Ambulance District base in 2018 at 110 N. High St. The sheriff's office moved to the temporary location after mold and water seepage issues shuttered its previous 1982 facility, which was demolished in January to make room for a potential Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch addition. The sheriff's office is looking at building a new permanent facility.

The Moniteau County Sheriff's Office is one step closer to getting a new home.

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley and county commissioners reconvened Thursday to continue discussion on erecting a complex of three standard metal buildings for its new facility. Previously, Wheatley presented commissioners with his plan for the facility along with four potential locations -- which was later narrowed down to two locations inside California city limits.

With a plan for the complex in place, Wheatley primarily discussed financing options for the facility.

In the first meeting on Feb. 9, Wheatley told commissioners he proposed a six-year, lease-to-own contract for a $800,000 note to Tipton Latham Bank. The bank would finance construction of the facility and own the facility for six years before the county paid the note off, at which time the property would be deeded over to the county government.

On Thursday, Wheatley said Commerce Bank returned a similar proposal with a much better interest rate. Commerce Bank would also do a six-year, lease-to-own contract for an $800,000 note with a 5-percent interest rate. The interest rate would be locked in for the duration of the loan, with the bid being good for 30 days.

"I talked to (a Tipton Latham Bank representative) about what Commerce had to offer and his words to me were, 'Tony, if you can get it for 5 percent, you better jump on it, because we were going to be at 6 (percent) or (higher),'" Wheatley said.

The financing would cost the county $157,000 annually, or a total of $945,683.80 by the time the county pays the project off. Wheatley said the sheriff's office will use Proposition P funds to pay for incidental costs and furnishings. Proposition P is a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2020 split between the sheriff's office and county road/bridges.

Wheatley also presented another triple net lease option to the commissioners, where they could lease the former Moniteau Care Center at 200 S. Gerhart Road for $15,000 per month. A triple net lease is an option where the sheriff's office could lease a facility while also being responsible for taxes, insurance and maintenance for the building. He said the owner wanted a 10-year initial lease, with them potentially selling the facility to the county outright after five years. However, he said the building needed a lot of work.

"Just rehabbing that place would cost more than the proposal we're talking about," said Presiding Commissioner Joe Lutz.

Wheatley and commissioners also discussed the breakdown of responsibilities between the county and Commerce Bank. Since Commerce Bank would own the facility, commissioners feared they would owe property tax on the property. However, a Commerce Bank representative said they wouldn't owe any property taxes since it would be a municipality lease. The sheriff's office would still be responsible for insuring the facility.

Despite having a plan and financing options in place, Wheatley said the sheriff's office is still looking for a location to build the complex, along with bids for a contractor to make it a reality.

Moving forward, Wheatley wrote in an email the sheriff's office will determine which property is "the best value and meets the need" after financing is secured. Once a property is selected, blueprints and specification sheets will be developed for constructing the facility. From there, the sheriff's office will request bids from contractors. Wheatley originally had turnkey bids from Drinkard Construction, Get It, LLC, for approximately $750,000, and Siteworks Building Group for approximately $950,000. The Drinkard Construction bid included a property at the corner of Windmill Ridge Drive and East Buchanan Street, across from Valley Park Retirement Center. The Siteworks bid included a property on East Buchanan Street to the west of Nathan's Tire Shop.

One concern during the Thursday meeting was an expiring bid from Frontier Metal, who would provide materials for the standard metal building. After Friday, the price of constructing the facility was slated to increase by $20,000-$30,000 due to increasing labor costs. A Frontier Metal representative assured Wheatley and commissioners that the bid was extended until March. However, with Wheatley now requesting construction bids later in the process, the materials will likely be re-bid with the increased prices.

The proposed complex will allow the sheriff's office to move out of its cramped temporary facility at 110 N. High St. The new permanent facility is slated to feature an 80-foot by 100-foot main office building with a secure-entry lobby for the public, a 40-foot by 60-foot garage that could be transformed into additional office space, and a 20-foot by 40-foot garage with space for evidence and file storage.

Wheatley and the commissioners will reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday at the commissioner's office in the Moniteau County Courthouse as they intend to move into the next phase of the project.

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