Delay in county space needs study won’t hurt results

The Marquette County Board is awaiting recommendations from a committee on how to implement the results of a space needs study, which analyzed county needs for building space now and into the future. The staff recommendation was due in June, but has been delayed.

Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch said some of the issues being explored are more complicated than anticipated. He is hoping now for a recommendation to be produced by the end of the year, sooner, if possible.

Last year, the county commissioned a space needs study -produced by the Somerville firm of Green Bay, Wis.- which analyzed the county’s needs for building space throughout the area.

Some of the places considered in the analysis included the Marquette County Jail, Ishpeming Service Center and Marquette County Courthouse complex.

The analysis provided some options, in broad terms, the board may consider going into the future. The board asked that a committee use the study to help develop recommendations for the board.

We think the delay is in the best interest of the county, provided the recommendation is delivered by the end of the year and acted on by the county board. Three of the main issues being explored include whether to keep the Ishpeming branch of Marquette County District Court open; whether to continue to operate the Marquette County Youth Home -which costs the county about $500,000 each year- and how to solve a nagging jail overcrowding problem at the Marquette County Jail.

These three issues pose significant challenges for the county, its residents and its finances. We think smart answers, which have been well-researched, are essential.

If it takes a bit longer for county staff to develop recommendations -using the time for better understanding and solution creation- that makes sense.

We look forward to hearing what those recommendations are, some of which will no doubt involve difficult choices to make for the county board.

Many of the issues will likely boil down to money, whether it be seeking millage or cutting budgets or funding for programs and services. We wish the board well with these difficult challenges that lie ahead.

For now, we think the delay on the space needs recommendation is worth the wait.