On Aug. 6, Dallas County voters will head to the polls to decide whether to approve a $16.85 million bond referendum to build a new county law enforcement center and office buildings along Highway 6 near Ortonville. Overall cost of the new building is estimated at $22 million.
We agree the county needs more space; its current operation in the traditional downtown area of Adel is stretched to its limits. The population of the county is growing, too, and law mandates that when population reaches 80,000, the county must add another courtroom.
However, we do not think spending taxpayer money to build outside downtown Adel would be money well spent. We believe the county has dismissed other viable options for expansion simply to move some county offices nearer the current population centers of the county — Waukee and West Des Moines. Such a decision would be a detriment to economical future operations of the county and would be a detriment to the well being of Adel in general.
The City of Adel has been a good partner with Dallas County for more than 150 years, and voting to move county offices and the law enforcement center east of what is commonly known as Adel would hurt that good working relationship.
One of the main reasons the current Board of Supervisors has given for the move is that the county treasurer, in particular, is located in cramped quarters, and lines to renew drivers’ licenses often spill outside the room and, at times, even onto Court Street. However, the supervisors’ decision to move the county offices from Adel to the Ortonville area was made before the State of Iowa enacted legislation that allows motorists to renew their licenses via the Internet. That alone will ease some of the congestion at the Treasurer’s Office.
We also believe the supervisors acted without giving due consideration to offers and incentives by the City of Adel to work with the county in finding an alternate suitable location within the traditional Adel downtown area.
Currently, county jail inmates are walked across the street for court appearances; should the county build new facilities east of Adel, those prisoners would have to be hauled to court. As prisoners are released from custody currently, there are several downtown facilities that are used by those prisoners who await family or friends to give them a ride back home. Those same prisoners, released from a new facility east of Adel, would have no shelter and some, likely, would be turned loose on Highway 6, a four-lane freeway with a 65 mph speed limit.
The proposed location also increases traffic hazard on Highway 6, especially those crossing traffic to head back toward the east. Certainly, new turning lanes would also be needed at an additional cost to taxpayers.
We believe the decision to bring this bond issue for a vote was spearheaded in the "special interest" of moving the county offices closer to Waukee. We believe there are better, and far less expensive, options for taxpayers to fund future growth of the county.
We encourage county voters to send that message to the Board of Supervisors by casting a "no" vote on Aug. 6.