The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office wants to fast-track construction of a new law enforcement headquarters by two years.
In the fiscal year 2022 budget cycle, Carroll County Commissioners agreed to budget for the design phase of the building plan in fiscal year 2025 and construction in fiscal years 2026 and 2027. As part of this plan, the new structure would open in fiscal year 2028.
At Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting, the sheriff’s office recommended that the design phase begin in fiscal year 2023 and construction take place in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, with completion the following year. The ministry has also requested that the budgeting for operating costs associated with the new building also be increased.
According to concept plans, the two-story building will comprise 40,000 square feet of space. The estimated total cost is $30.4 million.
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees told commissioners there were several reasons to move the project forward, including the expectation that the state will include $3 million in the fiscal year 2023 budget for this project, and the fact that county matching funds are already budgeted for FY2023, covering approximately 70% of the cost of the first phase of the project.
In addition, preliminary work has been completed on the programming and initial design of the project.
“The current project is expected to be built on the land adjacent to where our current bail is located,” DeWees said. “The property has the capacity to contain the building we are looking to construct, including parking.”
DeWees said he had discussions with the Department of Public Works, which confirmed he had the ability to work on the project should the commissioners decide to bring the schedule forward.
This building would consolidate the operations of the sheriff’s office, DeWees said, including the patrol division currently housed below the detention center, the sheriff’s office, which is in the historic jail, criminal investigations, property and evidence. , crime scene investigators, digital forensic analysts, as well as crime analysts, all of which are located in the basement of the Hampstead Public Library.
“People should know that the headquarters you’re in right now…was built in 1838, I believe,” said Commissioner Eric Bouchat, a Republican from District 4.
DeWees said the building was 185 years old and the agency had taken four lives from it.
The sheriff’s office also requested an additional $2.9 million in next year’s budget to raise salaries, moving the department to the 50th percentile of other law enforcement agencies and law enforcement positions. reference.
Although commissioners have approved annual salary increases for positions in the Sheriff’s Office, these increases have not been sufficient to remain competitive with other agencies, affecting retention and recruitment. A salary comparison was completed this spring and the Sheriff’s Office salaries are lower than all other agencies included in the report.
DeWees said there are four vacancies in law enforcement and he expects an additional opening in late spring. Corrections has 13 vacancies.
“In January I started recruiting for the academy promotion of September 2022 and received 12 applicants,” he said, adding that there were also eight potential candidates for lateral transfers. .
In 2018, the office had 170 applicants for open law enforcement positions. In 2019, there were 168 candidates, 125 in 2020 and only 46 in 2021.
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“The trend is down,” DeWees said. “Corrections is completely different. It remains permanently open.
At the meeting, the Department of Fire and EMS and the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association made several agency requests, including an increase to their overall budget of $824,629 for fiscal year 2023, and an additional $206,157 in the fourth quarter of this year’s budget for salary increases.
The department also made two one-time funding requests for fiscal year 2023, including $44,000 for the purchase of heavy lifesaving equipment for the Reese Volunteer Fire Company and $119,000 for EMS training equipment.
After hearing a number of requests, commissioners will begin discussing budget options in working sessions beginning Tuesday.
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 is expected to be released on April 26. Ted Zaleski, director of budget and management, will then hold a series of community meetings at public library branches to review and explain the proposed budget. Beginning Friday, meetings are scheduled for April 27 at the Eldersburg branch; April 28 at the Mount Airy branch; May 2 at the Westminster branch; May 3 at the Taneytown branch; and May 9 at the North Carroll branch. All meetings start at 7 p.m.
A virtual public hearing on the budget is planned for May 10 at 7 p.m. More information on viewing and participating in the public hearing will be provided closer to the date.
The adoption of the budget for the 2023 financial year is scheduled for May 24.