In less than a week, the polls will open for Dallas County residents to vote on whether or not the County will build a new Law Enforcement Center, including the jail, on the eastern edge of the City of Adel, at the corner of Highway 6 and County Highway R16.
The Dallas County Board of Supervisors, Dallas County staff and Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard are making the final push to get people out to the polls and vote “yes” on the proposal, if they have not already done so via absentee ballot.
This is the fourth time that the Board of Supervisors is taking a bond referendum to a vote, but this time, it only includes law enforcement and jail, unlike the last referendums that included other county offices and the 911 dispatch center.
For this referendum, the Supervisors hired the Samuels Group to analyze the needs, costs and tax impact on the residents before they go to vote.
“We’ve gotten more detailed information out to the public,” said Kim Chapman, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We’ve got more information out there on what the tax impact is to them and given examples. It’s just clearer information, I think, that has been very understandable this time.”
The Board of Supervisors, the Samuels Group, Design Alliance and Leonard held public meetings to present the proposal to the public, hear their opinions and answer their questions.
Chapman, while he discuss his confidence level in the final week before the vote, said that he has been hearing a lot of good comments from the public this time around.
“There are a few that have indicated that they’re not going to vote for it because they don’t want their taxes increased, but, by far the comments have been positive this time around,” Chapman said.
Supervisor Brad Golightly agreed with Chapman’s comments about the positive reactions from the public, and also stated the importance of people to get out and vote on May 2.
“It doesn’t do any good to say ‘yes…’ but not go vote,” Golightly said. “Somebody else isn’t going to do it. You’ve got to do it yourself.”
Supervisor Mark Hanson, said that the region of the County he represents, the southeast region including Waukee, has been supportive of the idea, even in past referendums. He said he is hearing more positive comments from the smaller communities this time around as well.
“I’m cautiously optimistic we’re going to get a favorable vote,” Hanson said.
A “yes” vote would allow Dallas County to bond out for a new law enforcement facility, which would be located out in the “Ortonville” area in east Adel and have a price tag of about $23 million. The County argues that this is something that has been needed for years.
The current facility, located in downtown Adel, has a capacity of 36 inmates, with 12 of those being temporary beds that will be taken away by the State of Iowa in March of 2018 if the vote for the new facility does not pass, leaving a capacity of 24. The Sheriff’s Department is also forced to transport prisoners elsewhere to meet segregation requirements due to gender, special needs or having prisoners who were co-conspirators on a crime, meaning that the Dallas County Jail could be considered full at 25 inmates.
According to www.dallascountyvote.com, Dallas County had as many as 62 prisoners per day on average in November of 2016. The informational website also states that the cost to the taxpayers to outsource prisoners to other facilities, including Story, Guthrie and Boone counties was about $237,000 from July 1, 2017 to January 2017.
The new facility would have 61 general population cells with two beds each and eight special needs cells with one bed each for a total of 130 beds. Additionally, the facility would have space for Sheriff’s administration, patrol, investigations, civil department and an initial appearance court room, which would have the ability to have the judge preside over the appearance via video call on the weekends.
The Samuels Group stated that, over 30 years, it would cost the County taxpayers $217,183,000 to build and operate a new facility, while it would cost $239,536,000 over the same time period to keep the current facility and continue to transport prisoners to other facilities around Iowa.
All 34 Dallas County precincts will be open on May 2. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.