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City, supervisors discuss options after $16.85 million bond defeated

Supes reflect on vote outcome

After last Tuesday’s defeat of a $16.85 million bond referendum for a new county administration and jail facility, the Dallas County Board of Supervisors discussed their next steps during their regular meeting.

Chairman Mark Hanson stated no discussions have been held with the other two supervisors, but said one question he wrestles with is if the Adel City Council continues to want the jail on the square. If the answer is ‘no’, he asked if they would want the jail in the historic downtown business district.

“If I had an answer then I could piece together some alternatives that may or may not be available,” Hanson said. Adding an additional story to the current jail facility is currently not on the drawing table because the facility would not meet standards, according to Hanson. “Even if you could put a second and third floor on the jail it wouldn’t be sufficient,” he said. “It wouldn’t solve all the problems because the jail doesn’t meet standards.”

Sheriff Chad Leonard agreed and said, “Even if you could put in a second floor you would have to add a third floor to get us by for the next few years.”

The supervisors also discussed the importance of why the vote failed by almost 68 percent.

Supervisor Kim Chapman said there were three common themes that he found: “1-folks in Adel voted ‘no’ because of its location; 2-eastern and northern folks said it was because they didn’t want their taxes to increase; and 3- some believe the project was a Band-Aid approach and said they would like all the county offices in the same area.”

The board also stated that communication on their reasoning behind the plan to move county offices and the jail to east Adel could have been better.

“Once we had chosen the site location we were selling that and not sharing all the same information that we had looked at previously,” Supervisor Brad Golightly said. A misunderstanding of how long the building would last was another comment Chapman addressed.

“I had one gentleman who thought when we said it was a 20-25-year-plan that the building would only last for 20-25 years,” he said. “There were just some misunderstandings.”

He also specifically addressed the Dallas County News’ editorial piece which stated there were other options at less cost to the taxpayers of the county and asked the paper to publically respond to the statement.

Geoff Schumacher, publisher of Stephen’s Media Iowa, responded by stating journalists are not inclined to speak at public meetings, and if a supervisor would like to meet with the editorial board to discuss the piece they could. “Our editorial board, which I am a member of, makes decisions just like any private entity makes decisions,” Schumacher said. “We also published comments for those who were for the move and those who were against it.”

Hanson responded by stating the outcome is still the same and that the board has to address immediate space issues.

“We’ve got some difficult challenges now,” he said. “Some of these issues are very real so if we have to split some of the project we might have to.”

Golightly chimed in and said he believes the proposal is still the best solution.

“I firmly believe we had and still have a good proposal,” he said. “I still believe that is the best solution to all the issues we were trying to resolve. It created adequate space for the foreseeable future and the need to expand (as well as) was less costly than other options we considered.”

Dale Swanson with the City of Adel commended the supervisors on wanting to explore other options and proposed the council meet with the Adel City Council to discuss alternatives.

Jon McAvoy with the City of Adel agreed and said the city and council should work together to come up with an agreeable option.

“We would be willing to sit down and get another architect for a second opinion,” he said. “If we are going to spend taxpayers’ money, we need a second consultant in my opinion.”

City Administrator Brett Klein added, “The city can’t spend money hand over first unless there’s some collaboration. The city would be more than welcome to work with the supervisors.”

Collaboration between the two entities may be in the foreseeable future; however, Operations Administrator Connie Kinnard said time is of the essence.

“I’m looking at the costs of the bond issue and how long it takes to complete a study,” she said. “It’s almost a shame we are spending the money to transport prisoners to Polk County when the money should be in Dallas County. If I could express my opinion it would be a factor of time.”

Also at the meeting, Dallas County Auditor Gene Krumm canvassed the Aug. 6 special election results with the board. About 7 percent of the total population of Dallas County residents showed up to vote with 1,858 ‘yes’ votes and 3,940 ‘no’ votes. The vote failed by almost 68 percent.

Other business:

Approved a rumble strip funding agreement with secondary roads; and,

Set time and date for a public hearing on H Avenue for Aug. 22 at 9:15 a.m.

* * *

City appoints two on commitee

Members of the Adel City Council said at their most recent meeting that they would like to extend an olive branch to the Dallas County Board of Supervisors in hopes of finding an alternative solution to the county’s growing space needs.

“The voters have spoken and that’s why we extended the olive branch to keep the facilities within downtown Adel,” Adel City Attorney John Reich said.

However, in order to continue moving forward City Administrator Brett Klein said the city was formally asked to respond to the question posed by Supervisor Mark Hanson about whether the Dallas County jail should be located along the square or if it could be moved to another location.

Council member Bryan Welch said he “couldn’t offer a viable opionion of what is correct.”

Both Jon McAvoy and Dale Swanson agreed that if the jail facility was split from the county admistinration portion that they would entertain the option of moving the jail.

“If it’s split where we can work through keeping the offices downtown and allow the jail to move out, I would give up the jail,” Swanson said. The council also agreed that time is of the essence.

“With what has transpired today I don’t think we are rushing into anything but it needs to be sooner rather than later,” Swanson said. Supervisor Kim Chapman was also in attendance and agreed the space issues won’t go away anytime soon.

“The sooner we come to a conclusion the better off we are,” he said. In order to proceed with moving forward councilwoman Shirley McAdon proposed the city form a committee comprising of a few members of the city, a member of the supervisors, county officials or local residents.

The council agreed to appoint McAdon and Swanson to join and form the committee on the city’s behalf.

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