Napa County has two major capital projects on the horizon — a new jail and a new campus for the Health and Human Services Agency — and money in the bank to pay for one of them.
The Board of Supervisors begins the county’s budget hearings for the next fiscal year Monday, and the most expensive project receiving funding is the county’s purchase of the Dey Labs site for the new home for the Health and Human Services Agency.
The county has about $25 million saved up in its reserves to pay for the purchase, and has a purchase-and-sale agreement with the property owner, Mylan Inc. It’s currently in a “due-diligence” process to ensure the property and buildings are in good shape, and that the south Napa campus would be a good fit for the agency. If all goes well, the county would likely close escrow in December.
The Board of Supervisors has stashed $33 million in that reserve, called the accumulated capital outlay fund, since 2006, according to the recommended budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Paying for construction of a new jail outside of downtown is another matter, and the county hasn’t identified a source of funding for the project. The price tag is higher than Health and Human Services — preliminary estimates placed it at $72 million, which includes property acquisition and construction.
The Board of Supervisors named the out-of-downtown option as its preferred alternative in 2012, and staff and a consultant are working on a draft environmental impact report.
That report, due in July, will analyze the out-of-downtown option, as well as keeping the jail in downtown, which would need a phased-in demolition of the existing jail and Hall of Justice, and new construction of a taller jail. That’s potentially more costly — estimated at $100 million — than the out-of-downtown option.
In January, the county said it’s considering general obligation bonds, a potential public-private partnership, or financial assistance from the state government to get the money it needs to build the jail. The recommended budget for the fiscal year ending in 2014 includes $225,000 for the new jail’s environmental impact report, but no other costs are included in next year’s budget, said Liz Habkirk, a senior management analyst in the Napa County Executive Office.
Habkirk said the focus is on completing the environmental report, and financing plans will be discussed after that. The issue may be raised during the supervisors’ budget hearings next week, she said.
“The options that we really talked about in January are all still on the table,” Habkirk said.
The county has identified land off Highway 221 in between Napa State Hospital and the Syar quarry as a potential site for the new jail. The site gives the county flexibility in adding capacity to the jail. It would be designed to hold 366 beds, but could expand to 526 beds if needed.
The jail is grappling with impacts from the state’s public safety realignment in 2011, with inmates expected to be serving longer sentences in the jail of two, three and even four years or more. That’s resulted in a need for a recreation yard, space for mental health services and programs designed for inmates serving longer sentences.
The environmental report will also examine the option of locating the jail in the Airport Industrial Area, which would put it closer to the Napa County Sheriff’s headquarters, but farther away from the courthouse. The Highway 221 site is roughly two miles from downtown and the courts, creating the need for transportation.