We are once again being asked to support a bond for a new 50 bed jail, this time in the amount of $6.495 million on Aug. 6. Having participated on the Jail Committee for the past two years, I can say without reservation that the proposal we now have in front of us is well thought out and provides us the best value for our tax dollar.
While there remain questions and differing opinions about the location, capacity and budgets needed to operate a County jail, the issue at hand is whether Jackson County will have a jail or not. There is no doubt that the county needs a new jail for both the safety of the officers, employees and inmates who work and use this facility. In addition, it is clear that the State of Iowa will at some point in the near future step in and make this decision for us if we do not as a County support the construction of a jail.
All of us are concerned about cost, which was the number one issue raised in the on-line survey completed by the Jail Committee. We as taxpayers have the generous support of two of our residents that keeps the cost of the jail at the bond amount. The proposal we have in front of us increases the capacity to house more of our own inmates (reducing out of county housing and transportation costs), provides a safe working environment for our law enforcement agencies and the inmates being held. The proposed facility design allows for expansion (to a max capacity of 74 beds) if it makes financial sense. Finally, it is designed to accomplish all of this efficiently (from an operating cost standpoint), at a lower cost than any proposal previously considered.
We have an experienced team of a construction management company and an architect that have designed and built over 30 jails, and we have sought the opinion of numerous counties and law enforcement agencies around Iowa that have recently built new facilities. Going on-site, hearing their experiences, getting their feedback and recommendations helped frame the proposal that is now in front of us.
Please support this issue and vote on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.