The Kootenai County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt the multi-million dollar facilities master plan, with the understanding that there will be many steps yet to implementing it.
"This is almost a formality, as we come up with plans on where do we go from here?" said Commissioner Dan Green, following a public hearing on the plan at the administration building.
The three elected officials agreed the adoption only establishes that they will rely on the plan to determine what proposed structural expansions and new buildings to pursue for the county.
"In the next month or two, we've scheduled time for strategic planning, and this definitely falls into strategic planning," Green said. "We can bring forward ideas."
NAC Architecture prepared the facilities master plan, outlining the long-term facility needs for 19 county departments. A handful of facilities, like the airport and jail, were not included.
The plan offers four different options for new structures and remodeling: The first would cost $28.3 million, the second $34.9 million, the third $36.4 million and the final $42.6 million.
Some proposals include a new, several-level parking garage on Northwest Boulevard, a new justice building on Garden Avenue, and an expansion of the administration building on Government Way.
The fourth and most costly plan, which was not recommended by NAC Architecture, proposes relocating all justice facilities next to the jail, at the county fairgrounds.
The only individual who commented at the public hearing was Linda Rider, chair of the North Idaho Fair board.
She requested the commissioners not pursue the fourth option, as the facilities master plan doesn't address the cost of relocating the fairgrounds.
"We feel it's the best place for our community," Rider said of the current location on Government Way, adjacent to the jail.
She presented stats estimating that replacing the fairgrounds would cost $27 million.
That doesn't include land, she added.
"That's just the square footage of our buildings," Rider said.
Commissioner Jai Nelson noted that the commissioners have already harvested community input on the plan, after holding an open house and making presentations to local organizations like the Coeur d'Alene Chamber.
No county officials have voiced opposition to the plan, she said. Judges have pressed on the need for more courtrooms, especially to accommodate a new magistrate judge expected soon.
The commissioners have assured that whatever proposals in the plan they pursue, nothing will be paid for without approval from the voters.
Commissioner Todd Tondee emphasized that though the commissioners adopted the plan on Tuesday, they were not selecting what option in the plan they will choose.
"We're just accepting the document as a tool we would use in the future," Tondee said.