GENEVA – The Kane County Board moved closer to signing off on plans to build a firearms training range at the Kane County Sheriff's Office.
Thursday, the County Board's Administration Committee unanimously recommended approval of a proposal to allow Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez to pay architects $67,000 to draw up plans for the firearms range.
"I think we've established the need for this," said County Board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles. "This is really a matter of when, not if."
County Board members have discussed the matter for months, since Perez first publicly asked the board for support of his plan to build the shooting range near his offices at the County Jail.
Perez has said the indoor firearms range is needed to replace the sheriff's office's derelict shooting range at the old county jail site on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva. County officials have declared that firing range to be unusable after floods left the facility too contaminated with mold and lead.
Perez has said the training range is needed to ensure his deputies, correctional officers and others in the sheriff's office now authorized to carry firearms can maintain the state-mandated certifications needed to legally carry a weapon.
Perez said the training and certifications also reduce county liability, should officers fire their weapons during altercations.
Since the old firearms range was declared unusable early this year, the sheriff's office has sought alternative locations at which deputies can train, including discussing arrangements with police departments in St. Charles and Aurora.
But Sheriff's Office Lt. Ron Grommes told Administration Committee members Thursday that those alternate arrangements would require the county to pay additional costs, such as overtime, facility rental fees, and travel expenses, while limiting training opportunities, particularly for deputies and other officers who must train overnight.
"And outsourcing is only a temporary fix," Grommes said. "It's just kicking the can down the road again."
Grommes said the sheriff's office believes it can pay for the project out of its $2.13 million budget surplus, which has been fueled mainly by home foreclosure fees and fees paid by other police agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals, to house inmates at the Kane County jail.
Committee members agreed that the sheriff's proposal represents the county's best option.
"This is a very economical proposal," said County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn. "And the convenience factor, that's what really sold me."