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Carlton County makes pitch for justice center funding

Carlton County representatives presented a bill that would give the county $22.5 million in funds for its proposed justice center to the Minnesota House Capital Investment committee on Tuesday, April 5.

File: Carlton County Jail aerial
The Carlton County Courthouse (left) and jail in Carlton. Steve Kuchera / 2019 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — Carlton County representatives gave their pitch to the Minnesota Legislature as to why lawmakers should be appropriate state funds to its proposed justice center.

Carlton County Board approves $27.5 million bond sale

Authored by Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, HF 3519 requests $22.5 million in state bond proceeds for the Carlton County justice center project.

The bill was presented to the House Capital Improvement Committee on Tuesday, April 5, by Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake.

Lake explained to the committee the background of the project, and why the county needs to build a new justice center after receiving a sunset date from the state for the current jail of July 2023.

The total cost for the project is estimated to be around $77 million, according to Lake, and the county has already bonded for $37.5 million of that.


Construction for the project is estimated to cost $63.9 million, with the rest of the project's expense being made up by soft costs.

The state has already given the county $2 million toward planning for a female offender program that would be included in the new center.

Bonding for proposed justice center moves forward in Carlton County

Lake said if the state appropriates any funding for the project, the county must follow Building, Benchmarks and Beyond guidelines, which are sustainability guidelines. Following the guidelines would cost the county $3.9 million, which was included in the total cost estimate, according to Lake.

The breakdown of funding, if the Legislature were to approve the $22.5 million appropriation, would be 70.5% of the total cost covered by the county and 29.5% of the cost covered by the state.

Carlton County is not the only county vying for state funding for similar projects, but in February, Mary Finnegan, Carlton County economic development director, said that could bode well for Carlton County.

There is another bill, authored by state Sen. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, SF 3321, which would also appropriate $22.5 million in funds for the justice center.

Rarick’s bill has been introduced to the Senate Capital Investment committee, but has yet to have a committee hearing.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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