After failing to persuade the Waldo County commissioners, a group of neighbors opposed to the location of a new building that would house the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management Agency are widening the scope of their argument.

The county commissioners earmarked roughly $1 million for the project in January, a year after Commissioner William Shorey decried the state of the nearly 200-year-old former jailer’s house on Congress Street that is now home to the Sheriff’s Office.

Current plans would erect the new L-shaped building on a vacant lot behind the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center — formerly Waldo County Jail.

The money, to be taken from a half-dozen existing county accounts, would pay for the Sheriff’s Office portion of the L-shaped building. Funding for the smaller EMA wing would come from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant awarded to the county last year. That grant is worth about $360,000, and the county has already contributed about $120,000 in additional matching funds.

To date, the most vocal opponents of the project have been residents with property abutting or nearby the county lot — their concerns focused on the scale of the building in relation to other structures in the historic, mostly-residential neighborhood. On several occasions, the commissioners have waved off the neighbors’ efforts to offer alternative ideas and the project has moved ahead on schedule.

Brenda Bonneville, who owns property abutting the county’s property on Congress Street, said she has received letters from residents outside of Belfast who are opposed to how the project would be funded. Bonneville said she and others who have so far opposed the location of the proposed building, may find more support if they focus on the $1 million of county tax money that would be used, and the chance that the project may go over budget.

“[The county commissioners’] proud statement is that it won’t cost the taxpayers money,” Bonneville said April 13, “So, if and when it goes over budget — and to me it’s a ‘when’ — where does that money come from?”

Other opponents of the project have argued that the county accounts that are tapped for the project would need to be replenished, making the commissioners’ claim that the new building would come at no expense to taxpayers a misleading one.

Commissioner Donald Berry dismissed this criticism. The accounts, named for the Sheriff’s Office, Future Sheriff’s Building, County Planning, Future County Land and Buildings, Facilities (all other), and the county’s undesignated funds balance, or surplus, exist for such a project, he said.

Berry said the commissioners could opt to add money to some of these accounts later, naming the Future County Land and Buildings account as an example. But others, like the Future Sheriff’s Building account, would cease to be relevant once the project is completed, he said.

The largest draw from a single account under the commissioners’ plan would be $500,000 from the county’s $650,000 undesignated funds balance. Commissioner Amy Fowler said the county is anticipating a $106,000 refund from the state Board of Corrections for work done to convert the jail to a re-entry center — a figure that would replace a portion of the county’s surplus.

The proposed new building goes before the Belfast Planning Board on April 14, and the city’s InTown Design Review on April 15.

Bonneville acknowledged that the Planning Board could not reject the project based upon its effect on the county’s bank account, but said she and others plan to plead their case to city officials.