Regional jail nears groundbreaking in South King County

Artist's rendering of the SCORE regional jail facility.
— image credit: Courtesy of

The multi-jurisdictional SCORE jail facility is within months of groundbreaking.

The cities of Federal Way, Renton, Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, SeaTac and Tukwila have worked together for more than two years to bring a misdemeanant jail to the South King County area. They plan to purchase property in Des Moines, upon which to build the jail, in August, said Bryant Enge, Federal Way's chief financial officer. Proceeds from a recently sold and collectively owned piece of property in Bellevue will pay Federal Way's portion of the up-front costs on the jail.

Until recently, the cities were tied to the Bellevue property. It was acquired by several cities in 2000, when they learned King County planned to terminate contracts with its cities for jailing services after 2012. The cities contracting with the county for jailing services formed a partnership and initially considered placing a new jail on the Bellevue property. They later decided against the idea and put the land up for sale.

In March, the Bellevue land was bought by Seattle Children's Hospital for $13 million. Federal Way has awaited the sale so that it may allocate its share of the revenue — $971,639 — toward purchasing the Des Moines property, Enge said.

Plans to purchase that property and construct the jail are on target, he said. Representatives from each partnering SCORE city comprise an oversight board. An architect has already begun planning the new jail's design. The cities are working collectively on the project. No hold-ups have occurred, Enge said. Once the land is bought, groundbreaking will soon follow, he said.

"Things are moving forward in Des Moines as we had planned," he said.

As part of the inter-local agreement between SCORE partners, each city will pay a share in the costs of the jail. Construction is planned to begin in November. Originally, the SCORE cities planned to build a 674-bed jail. The economy now allows for a larger facility — 822 beds.

"The cost to construct is favorable in this economic climate," Enge said.

The bigger jail will cost $2 million more, he said. The $94 million project is scheduled for completion by August 2011, Enge said. Federal Way is expected to contribute $16 million for capital construction, Enge said. It will contribute $1.5 million annually for operational costs. This is around $16,000 more, per year, than previously predicted due to the increased number of beds.

After the jail opens, there will be a transitional phase. The city's jailing contract with King County does not expire until 2012. Federal Way will pay for SCORE and King County services during that time. However, after 2012, SCORE will meet the city's misdemeanant jailing needs completely.

The facility will have the capability to house misdemeanants who are physically and mentally ill, as well as those who are ill-tempered. Currently, the city contracts with Fife, King County and Yakima County for its jail services. Only King County accepts ill misdemeanants.

The SCORE jail is expected to exceed Federal Way's bed need for inmates. The city's average daily misdemeanant jail population was 60 inmates in 2007, Enge said. It is expected to reach 70 by 2011, he said. Any beds the city does not use for its own jailing needs, may be rented to other municipalities.

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