The Ellis County Commissioners’ Court unanimously approved a $32,388 purchase to replace the boiler system at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center during its Tuesday meeting.

The original two-boiler system at the Ellis County jail was designed to alternate hot water back-and-forth between the kitchen and laundry. But in late January, one of the boilers went out, causing the second boiler to be the sole provider for the jail’s hot water.

The commissioners’ court was offered three options to repair the pre-existing boiler system – replace both boilers with three water heaters, or replace one or both boilers with similar models.

The most inexpensive option would have been to replace the one broken water boiler, which would have amounted to $17,197.

Precinct One commissioner Randy Stinson weighed in, saying that if the county was going to replace a boiler, the court should replace both of them – not just the one. If they didn’t, they would potentially expose themselves to the same issue later down the road.

“That would only put a Band-Aid on the situation,” Stinson remarked. “You replace one, and the other would be ready to go at any time.”

Facilities director Paul Verheyden suggested to the court that they replace the current boiler system with three water heaters. He explained that the replacement would cost about $45,527 and could potentially last longer than the nine-year-old boilers would.

Stinson, however, challenged that option, stating that the warranty on the water heaters was significantly smaller than those of the water boilers.

“You look at the pros and cons,” Stinson stated. “If you go with water heaters, they have a three-year warranty. If they’re gone after three years, you’re not replacing those heaters anytime soon. I’m looking at 10 years.”

County judge Todd Little backed Stinson’s assessment, stating that since this is an unplanned expense on the county’s end, they need to make the financial decision that would impact them most in the long run.

“One of the things we really need to consider is the warranty of whatever we purchase.” Little stated. “If we do both of the boilers now, we get seven years more on the extended warranty for the equipment.”

Stinson made the motion to purchase two water boilers to replace the current pre-existing ones that are at the county jail. Precinct Four commissioner Kyle Butler seconded the motion, and the court unanimously approved the measure.

Little explained the purchase would potentially come from the county’s general fund. The county auditor will bring a proposal forward to the commissioners during a later court date.