Supes hold first of four public meetings on admin building

Allison McNealEditor

The Dallas County Board of Supervisors held the first of four informational public meetings about the proposed county administration as well as jail and jail administration building on Tuesday night at the Adel-DeSoto-Minburn School Board meeting room.

About 30 citizens and county government officials were present to hear the detailed presentation on why the county is taking a $16,850,000 bond referendum to the voters on Aug. 6.

One of those reasons includes increased population growth.

“Dallas County’s growth is a well-documented fact,” Chair Mark Hanson said. “The U.S. Census Bureau numbers show our population has more than doubled from 35,783 to 71,967 and our population will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

Jail overcrowding and maintaining essential county functions including elections, Veterans Affairs, public health services, mental health services, road departments, records, court services, emergency management services and assessors duties were also talking points.

However, Hanson said the key points in taking the option to the voters included overdue space needs and the fact that the county already owns the property east of Adel.

“The site will provide ample parking, provides easier access to Clive, Urbandale, West Des Moines and Waukee residents, provides room to expand as Dallas County’s population continues to grow and allows us to end our leases, exceeding $205,000, on county offices,” Hanson stated. “The best services for residents are ease and accessibility.”

In addition, the land currently has sewer and electricity capabilities.

Hanson also added the county will maintain a downtown Adel presence as the majority of county officials, close to 83 percent based on a 20-year plan, will remain in the historic Adel area. They will also maintain the seven buildings the county currently owns: the courthouse, jail, engineer’s building, EMS, 902 Court St., 121 East 9th St. and a building near the Adel Fairgrounds.

The new, 91,000 square foot facility is expected to house the Assessor, Recorder, Veterans Affairs, Board of Supervisors, Human Resources, Auditor, Operations Administration, Information Technologies and the Treasurer departments along with jail administration. Offices such as Planning and Development, Environmental Health and Human Services are anticipated to remain in the historic downtown area.

Sheriff Chad Leonard emphasized his support of the project and said the jail administration portion is needed.

“We are struggling at the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “We’ve shut down cell blocks due to water issues recently, and ever since I started in 2007 there’s been problem after problem. I think this is needed especially due to growth.

“At this point we’ve done everything we can possibly do to maintain it…It’s nickeling and diming the county taxpayers at this point.”

Another ongoing issue Leonard said is dealing with a lack of parking.

“We rent parking from the lot next door (First Christian Church in Adel), but we move our vehicles when they have events or visitations at the church,” Leonard said. “We’ve researched it and don’t have a place to park where we are currently at.”

The proposed jail portion is expected to provide for ample parking and will encompass more than half of the square footage of the overall administration building.

In order to cut down on prisoner transport costs, the facility will have a first arraignment courtroom where the prisoner can communicate electronically to the presiding judge.

The conversation shifted from the jail to overall cost to the taxpayers and how long it will take to pay off the debt.

According to the board, for a resident with a $200,000 home valuation it will cost $30 annually or 8 cents per day. It is expected to take 20 years to pay off the building.

Those who have recently built homes in Adel and taken advantage of the 5-year tax abatement will also repay the debt.

The project, including furnishings, surveying, soil testing, repurposing of existing buildings, two turning lanes on Highway 6, and fiber stringing, will amount to $22 million.

A resident ended the two and a half-hour long meeting with a question regarding whether or not the board’s long-term goal is to have all the county administration offices move to east Adel.

Supervisor Brad Golightly said, “It leaves the option to do that because the building is based on a 20-year projection.”

Although it leaves an option to do so, Supervisor Kim Chapman said the option to do that has never been discussed.

The board will hold their second informational meeting Tuesday, July 9 at the Woodward-Granger High School cafeteria, 306 West 3rd St.