The Dallas County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a location for a proposed administration and public safety facility on the east side of Adel, taking the next step in a seven-year process to provide necessary services for residents in one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties.
"Sixty-six of Iowa’s 99 counties lost population between 2000 and 2010," Chairman Mark Hanson said. "Of the counties that did experience growth, many saw increases of several dozen to just a couple hundred. Meanwhile, Dallas County has experienced dramatic growth, more than doubling from 35,783 in 1997 to 71,967 today. We were the seventh-fastest growing county in the nation in 2011 and the 14th fastest-growing county last year. As county officials, we have a responsibility to see that services keep up with the needs of our residents."
He added, "We have facilities like our driver’s license offices that are inadequate to meet the public’s needs. We have people standing in lines in the cold and get their licenses because we don’t have the space to accommodate them. On top of that, Dallas County taxpayers are paying more than $205,000 a year for leased space when a new facility would be right-sized and smarter for our budget."
The board is expected to set a date by June 21 for a county-wide referendum on the issue.
Hanson said the three-member board and other elected officials have worked closely together to determine how to best-serve Dallas County residents with the most effective services. A previous board had commissioned a master plan survey in 2006 to review how to meet current and future needs for the range of services the county delivers.
"It was that master plan and our ongoing evaluation of county services since then that prompted the board in June 2011 to start talking about this needed next step of building a new administration and public safety facility in this location that respects the history of our county seat and recognizes that the bulk of the people who come to county offices are coming from West Des Moines, Clive and Waukee," Hanson said.
The Supervisors approved a formal study of department needs and a space assessment in July 2001, which was completed two months later. With the combined research in hand, county officials spent the rest of the year analyzing and ranking potential sites for the proposed administration and public safety facility.
Hanson noted that early discussion yielded several potential locations, but attention focused on a site east of Adel on the north side of Highway 6 that the county already owns.
"For the past 18 months, the Dallas County Board of Supervisors has reviewed the space needs study, architectural designs, fielded scores of comments from the public and discussed this project at great length," Hanson said. "From day one, our focus has been on how to best serve the needs of the population that has already doubled and is certain to keep growing and be fiscally responsible in the process. This has been a very deliberate and thorough process-all with the goal of delivering services effectively and efficiently for a county that has grown to the size that few people would have predicted even 20 years ago."
He said the county will maintain offices in buildings at 902 Court St., 121 Ninth St. and 201 N. Nile Kinnck Dr.
"The courthouse is likely to be devoted completely to the courts because of a state law that will mandate that we add a courtroom as soon as our population reaches 80,000," Hanson said. "We are not vacating downtown."
Additional information about the study process and proposed administration as well as public safety facility will be available at www.dallascountyfuture.com.