The hot topic being discussed as of late at Dallas County Board of Supervisors meetings and City Council meetings is the proposed Public Safety Facility that will go to a referendum vote on May 2. On Monday, residents of Adel had a chance to ask questions and get answers from Sheriff Chad Leonard, the Board of Supervisors, Jerry Purdy from Design Alliance and Sid Samuels from the Samuels Group.
The referendum to be voted on in May will be for $22.9 million.
Leonard was able to discuss the need for the new Sheriff’s office, which would be located in the area known as Ortonville at the corner of Highway 6 and R16. Purdy was able to answer questions about the design and the structure itself and Samuels was able to answer questions about the finances and the tax impact of the project.
According to Leonard, this could very well be the first time the voting public would make a decision to support the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.
“We can’t find anywhere in history where Dallas County residents have ever supported the Sheriff’s office bond referendum,” Leonard said. “All the way back to 1898, I believe, Chief Deputy found where the Sheriff had asked for $2,000 and was rejected even back then.”
Currently, the Dallas County Jail has 36 beds, which the State of Iowa will soon reduce by 12 to just 24 beds. A lot of the space issues come from the need for segregation of females from males and Leonard was asked to explain who else they had to keep segregated.
State rules say they have to keep females apart from males in cell blocks and co-conspirators in crimes have to be kept in separate cell blocks as well.
“It is kind of a logistical nightmare so to speak when you’re trying to utilize things,” Leonard said.
Leonard mentioned that a large portion of the prisoners in the Dallas County Jail are from the Des Moines Metro area, including West Des Moines and Waukee. He said that in a 6-month period, the metro has brought 248 prisoners to the Dallas County Jail while Perry has only brought 62.
“We used to get a majority of our prisoners from the Perry area 10 years ago, probably, when I first took over, but that’s not the case anymore,” Leonard said. “The metro, as it grows into our county, we’re more and more seeing West Des Moines squad cars in our sally port dropping off prisoners.”
Cities have holding cells for prisoners when they are first arrested, but if they are arrested for a simple misdemeanor or worse, they will have to be transferred to the Dallas County Jail.
Currently, due to the overcrowding, Dallas County is housing some of its prisoners at other jails in Story County, Boone County and Jasper County for as much as $55 per day. Leonard was asked if they would open the new jail up to be able to house other prisoners from other counties as well if it were to be built.
“We did not build it with the intent to do that, but I will open the doors to try to recover some of the money back to Dallas County,” Leonard said.
As far as a price that Dallas County would charge for housing prisoners from other counties goes, it would be up to the Board of Supervisors at a later date, but Leonard said it would probably be on par with the other counties at $50 or $55 per day.
Another new thing for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, and the only thing that is extra for them, according to Leonard, is the inclusion of a kitchen on the current design.
They are currently paying about $17 per person, per day on food, having it delivered from Adel Home Care Services. With their own kitchen, they would be able to knock the price down to about $4 per day, per person on meals.
They will also be able to have a court room for initial appearances in the new facility, and a judge will even be able to video conference in for the appearance.
It was asked by a resident, why they didn’t decide to choose land north of Adel for the project, or why they didn’t elect to buy out Adel Chrysler, which is next door to the current Dallas County Jail. Supervisor Chair Kim Chapman said that Adel Chrysler was not for sale and that it wouldn’t be big enough anyways.
The land north that the resident was asking about was not in Adel, which also poses a problem.
“We have to have our elected officials in the county seat town where the county’s located,” said Supervisor Mark Hanson. “So this facility, where the Sheriff is an elected official, is in the town of Adel.”
As far as financing goes, those who own a home valued at $100,000 would pay roughly $1.24 per month in additional taxes, someone with a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $2.59 per month and someone with a $400,000 home would pay about $5.30 per month.
The tax raise would only last about two years as long as no new debt is taken on. In the third year after the issue is passes, the tax levy would return to where it is currently.