With plans drawn and final estimates calculated, both the City of Newton and Harvey County commissions now have all the information needed to move forward with renovations to the joint law enforcement center shared by the Harvey County Sheriff's Office and Newton Police Department (among others) — a project that has been in the works for several years.

Put on hold as Newton looked into relocating its police facilities, the idea of joint renovations was readdressed earlier this year (after relocation plans were tabled in 2017) and city administration brought final figures forward in order to put out bids on the project.

Renovations — including a new HVAC system, new carpet and paint, new card reader door access, etc. — would be broken down into six phases (each lasting about three months). Plans are for the project to start in March 2019 and be completed by June 2020, with surcharges being worked into the bid if contractors go over the total calendar days outlined for the project.

Cost breakdowns would see Newton covering about $2.1 million of the project while the county would be on the hook for just over $1 million — with the project not to exceed $3,129,500.53.

For commissioners, there were questions over how the cost shares were broken down and Newton Director of Public Works Suzaane Loomis noted they were structured based on a mix of ownership and usage of the facilities worked out between the various staff that share the center.

"We went over all of that and tried to get it as close to exact as possible," Loomis said.

Distribution of any extra funds, it was noted, would be paid back in a similar way.

Questions were also raised about the nature of these renovations from the city's side, considering it was looking at relocating its facilities at one point. City Commissioner Glenn Davis asked if the remodel was still viewed as a temporary fix or if it would have a longer lifespan. City Manager Bob Myers noted the renovation project falls more into the latter category.

"The thought is, at the very least, if it's still functional and desirable to continue operating a joint facility that this should be in place for an indefinite period of time," Myers said. "We wanted this to give both the city and the county flexibility going down the future."

Loomis noted, though, that no specific answer to that question exists as city administration does not know what the future holds.

One other item that will be addressed jointly as the commissions move forward on the renovation project is working out a new maintenance agreement — as the old one is viewed as unworkable and both Myers and County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber noted administration is working on a plan with which all parties will be comfortable.

Going over the projected schedule, Loomis noted architects would send out bid requests on Jan. 4, hold a mandatory pre-bid meeting with contractors on Jan. 17, receive bids by 10:30 a.m. Feb. 6 and award bids (either individually or jointly) on Feb. 11 and/or 12 — with both commissions agreeing that acting jointly would be better.

Before moving forward, county commissioner Ron Krehbiel wanted to make sure the city was committed to moving forward with this plan of action (given previous relocation efforts). While city commissioners asked a similar question of the county, Loomis pointed out that both parties have to be ready to act if this is the path they want to go down.

"If we're going to go through the bidding process, we need to be prepared to award bids," Loomis said.

Ultimately, both the City of Newton and Harvey County commissions approved resolutions to proceed with the request for bids to renovate the joint law enforcement center.