City agrees to new sheriff's building

Carson City supervisors agreed Thursday to pursue a new multi-story building for the sheriff's office, allowing architects to begin detailed drawings of the project.

The 40,000-square-foot facility could cost $9 million or more and is expected to take two years to build. Reno architect firm Ganthner Melby LLC was hired for $150,000 to provide detailed schematic drawings that should narrow the cost estimate.

"I don't think any of us have any doubt there needs to be a new facility for the sheriff's office," said Supervisor Robin Williamson. "There's not a question, improvements need to be done. Waiting will only make it more expensive."

Supervisors decided to move forward with a new building instead of retrofitting or adding to the existing facility, because it provided for all the department's future needs. The new project will be built at the same location on Musser Street.

Supervisors said they were reluctant to decide how to pay for the project without knowing exactly how much it will cost.

"Somebody needs to give me a little more information," said Mayor Ray Masayko. "What's the dollar cost risk for interest rates going up? Let's get those kinds of discussions out there. We want the people we work for to understand."

The city's finance officer said the city could cover a $10 million facility through issuing bonds by pasting together existing property taxes and reserve funds.

Built in 1965, the older building serves a department that has tripled in size. The public reception area doesn't allow for seating and often is crowded. Floors and walls are showing cracks and the building is aging.

Architects from Ganthner Melby, who worked with the city to build the jail and courthouse complex, submitted a report outlining several options: Remodel; remodel and expand the existing facility; acquire and adapt to an existing building; construct a new building from scratch; or build a new building at the current site. Supervisors decided to go with the last option.

Building on the same site next to the new courthouse and jail complex will allow the department to continue operating in the existing offices during construction. The new offices will be built to the south of the old. The new offices will also include the latest features and extra security measures needed for a law enforcement building.

The proposed multi-story structure will also include a multi-level parking garage, where the offices are now, to accommodate workers and the public.

Supervisors will see public comment after getting the first detailed schematic plans in 120 days. Architects estimate it will take a year to complete the entire design process.

Some officials were concerned Thursday about committing the city to a $10 million bond without hearing from the public.

"We're (talking about) committing $10 million in bonds without the vote of the public," said Supervisor Pete Livermore. "I'm worried about that. I would hope we would give our community some time to communicate their feelings and wishes toward this."

The city plans to set aside $1 million for the project in 2005, which may pay for bond costs or other initial costs to get the project off the ground. Finance director Tom Minton said by using property taxes already in place and money set aside for reserves, the city could pay for the project without seeking additional funding sources.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.


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