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The voters in Douglas County will be facing another hot ballot issue this November if everything goes as planned.
The county commissioners met on Friday, June 18 with architects to talk about two different preliminary drawings for a new jail.
The commissioners plan on asking the voters to approve a ½-cent sales tax for the jail, along with another ½-cent sales tax for general operating revenue.
At that meeting, the commissioners entered into a contract with the architectural firm (Goldberg, Sullivan & McCrerey of St. Joseph, Mo.) for the preliminary drawings.
“These are just base drawings, something to work from,” Presiding Commissioner Butch Linder said.
The commissioners chose a drawing, and will travel to St. Joseph on July 14 to finalize it.
“From that drawing, the architects will give us a cost estimate of the project,” Linder said.
The current jail was built in the early 1960s.
“All it takes is one inmate suing the county,” Linder said. “Then we have to take all the prisoners out of the jail, pay for them to be housed in other counties, and face a settlement.”
This year’s operating budget will force the county to dip into their reserves by roughly $500,000.
“This 1/2–cent general sales tax will help us cover all of our new expenses and old expenses,” Linder said. “If we don’t get it…we’re going to be in trouble next year.”
The county plans to apply for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, which would give them low-interest loans for the jail project.
“If we get it, that would be a significant amount of savings for the county,” Commissioner Danny Dry said.
The commissioners are also exploring the option of having a storm shelter in the jail, which would allow them to apply for more grant money.