County Commission to consider requesting state funds for crisis center, receive update on work for jail expansion

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

The Douglas County Commission may formally ask for state funding to help support the construction of a planned behavioral health crisis center.

During its meeting on Wednesday, the commission will consider sending a letter to Gov. Laura Kelly to request $750,000 of state funding for the planned crisis center, which is expected to be built as part of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County.

The county recently broke ground on the housing portion of the Treatment and Recovery Campus, located in the 1000 block of West Second Street, just north of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. The crisis center is planned to be built at 146 Maine St., which is directly west of the housing portion of the campus.

The proposed letter requests that funding be included in the state’s 2021 fiscal year budget, which the Kansas Legislature will craft during the legislative session that begins in January.

The letter says the requested funding will be used for planning, construction and base services associated with the crisis center. It also notes that the county’s request is similar to requests that have been granted in previous state budgets for crisis centers in Wyandotte, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Riley and Saline counties.

The proposed crisis center for Douglas County, which doesn’t have an official name yet, is still in the planning stages. Karrey Britt, a spokeswoman for the county, previously told the Journal-World that the county and its community partners were aiming to complete its construction by the end of 2021.

In other business, the commission will receive an update on work related to the expansion of the Douglas County Jail.

County Administrator Sarah Plinsky told the Journal-World on Monday that the update would focus on issues the county must address before it finishes preconstruction services for the planned expansion. The update is scheduled for a work session, which means the commission will discuss the topic but is not expected to take any official action.

The planned expansion of the jail is a contentious topic in the community. Commissioners Michelle Derusseau and Nancy Thellman have long supported an expansion of the jail, citing as primary concerns poor conditions for inmates, overcrowding and the need to house inmates in other counties’ jails.

Opponents, however, have generally pushed for more alternatives to incarceration before the county permanently expands the jail’s footprint, especially if the expansion were to be funded through methods that don’t require a public vote.

After county voters turned down a ballot question in May 2018 that, in part, would have created a sales tax to fund a $44 million expansion of the jail, the commission began to look for other options. The result is a new design proposal from Treanor Architects for an estimated $23 million to $25 million expansion that would add between 84 and 112 beds to the jail’s current 186. It could also include a separate minimum security wing for 42 inmates who are involved in reentry and work release programming.

The County Commission will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at douglascountyks.org.


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