The Ogle County Board took the first step Sept. 18 toward possible construction of a new administrative building for the sheriff's department.
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 19-4 to release a request to six area architects for proposals for architectural and engineering services.
Board member Dennis Williams, Byron, said the county will incur no costs to obtain the proposals.
He said the 100-year-old building at 103 Jefferson St., Oregon, where the sheriff's office is now has outlived its usefulness.
"That building over there has served its life cycle," he said. "Any money we put into it is wasted."
He said the windows, heating system, roof, and lighting all need to be replaced.
The building and adjacent site was formerly E.D. Etnyre & Company.
Some board members questioned the timing with the state of the economy and dwindling county revenues and rising expenses.
"Why are we looking at this right now?" asked Skip Kenney, Rochelle.
Pat Saunders, Polo, asked how the new building will be paid for.
"I thought we were going to retire the bonds [for the judicial center] next year," she said. "Where will the money come from?"
She said she wants to see the five-year capital improvement plan before voting on seeking proposals for the sheriff's building.
"We need to start planning for the future now," Williams said. "This is just the first step."
He said the money will come from the Long Range Capital Improvement Fund.
Money for that fund comes from the host fees paid to the county by garbage companies to dump refuse in the county's landfills. The host fees amount to approximately $3.5 million annually.
The fund has been used to pay for the courthouse renovations in finished in 2010 and to make bond payments on the judicial center completed in 2005.
Williams said the Long Range Planning Committee originally aimed to start construction on the new sheriff's office in 2013 but has now pushed the project in 2014 because of paying off the loan for the judicial center in 2013.
Paying the bonds off early will save interest costs. The are due to be paid in full in 2023.
Williams said approximately $11 million is still owed on the judicial center, which cost $15 million.
He said the cost of the new sheriff's office is estimated at $2.5 million.
The new building will house the sheriff's department and the county morgue, which are currently in separate buildings at the current site, he said.
The old building will probably be demolished once the new one is completed, Williams said.