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March 31, 2020

3/20/2020 10:08:00 AM
Iowa County Board approves law enforcement center

The proposed jail building project known as the Law/Enforcement enter got the go-ahead on a 17-4 vote at a special meeting of the Iowa County Board Wednesday.
Voting against the resolution were Supervisors Diehl, Benish, Griffiths and Masters.
The resolution passed sets the maximum cost to taxpayers of $29,895,000 which will be used for "the public purpose of paying the cost of the purchase of land for and construction, equipping and furnishing the new Law Enforcement Center.
Before the board entered into discussion they heard from people both against and for the project as proposed. Nancy and Peter Tews along with Dennis McKernan spoke against the project with their objections mainly with the cost. They felt the county has other needs more pressing such as road improvements and the needs of the elderly, McKernan said a project this size should go to referendum.
Speaking in favor of the project were:
-Greg Jewell of Jewell and Associates said the county had a good bid package which drew 120 bidders. He added the process has been done the right way.
-Carol Anderson, a law enforcement committee member, said the project started in 2004 with discussion and putting it off has caused a rise in cost. She said this needs to be done now. She also said there are safety concerns with the present facility.
-Bill Ehr, a member of the law enforcement committee who has extensive construction experience, said the project is right, needed and affordable.
-Detective Brian Fitzsimons said the current facility puts staff in danger and that he nearly lost evidence when the building received water damage.
-Sheriff Steve Michek is also concerned with safety issues and added that the current facility does not help in finding people to work in law enforcement. He said it is hard enough to find people who will work in a correctional facility and when they see the present jail they are often not interested.
-Amanda Gardner said her father, Curley Meudt was a chief deputy and gave a television interview in 1979 with his message the jail building is outdated and dangerous then.. She also addressed the safety issue.
Supervisor Curt Peterson discussed how the project started and brought the board up to date on arriving where they are at present.
A representative from Potter Lawson had a presentation on what the facility would look like and also the budger.
A Kramer Brothers representative discussed how the budget for the project has been determined. The original cost of the project was $27,750,000. Later a guaranteed maximum price was adopted at $27,100,000. So far with bidding that number is $26,776,307 which is a savings of over $300,000.
Supervisors were given a sheet of successful bids and were told there will be one more bid session to take care of some areas where bids were missing some signatures or were rejected.
The project manager said because most of the suppliers and their supply chains should have no difficulty staying on schedule with the impending coronavirus concerns.
Timelines were discussed as well as tax impact. The county's finance director said the cost per $100,000 is actually going down with what the county has been paying off. The estimate for the proposed law enforcement center is $104.00 per $100,000.
Supervisors discussed other items that will affect tax impact such as road upgrades and the county nursing home project when that issue is decided.
Speaking against the price of the project were Supervisors Benish and Griffiths.
Benish said 1% of the population uses the jail with many more using highways and senior needs. He said he supports building a law enforcement center but not at this price.
Griffiths said he feels the ICSD could stay where it is and a new jail could be built at the much lower cost. Supervisor Diehl agreed with Benish, citing highway and Bloomfield Manor needs should be addressed also.
"We are faced with big problems but we might be overspending our needs. If we can keep the cost of the jail down we can use the money for other needs and be better managers," Diehl said.
Leix said he feels the jail building committee has down what was asked of them and he supports the project but he does not want the public to feel the $104 per $100,000 will the only tax number needed.
"It is time," said Supervisor Gollon. "We approve this we get one issue out of the way and we can work on other needs. Other boards have not been able to this done so lets do it and move on."
Supervisor Paull said the Law Enforcement Center will have space to address mental problems and rehab services for inmates which is needed and not available now.
Supervisor Haag said the city taxpayers are facing the cost of a new library and are already paying off a school bond. He is concerned about the tax impact and would like to see it less costly.
County Administrator Larry Bierke said there has been a lot of time and talent that has gone into this project and those involved have put together a good plan. He said the time to do this is now and the tax impact will be less with the way the county has paid things off. He urged the project to get the go-ahead.
Chairman Meyers said the bids are competitive and the borrowing rates are at a good level.
"We have liabilities every day of people getting hurt working in the current jail and it is time to do this. We owe our people that," he said.
Supervisor Nankey said the board has been charged with taking care of issues at Bloomfield and the Highway Committee has huge needs. He then added the county needs the new jail.
"We have a lot of young people who serve time and if we can help them we should do it," he said. "We need to do this."
After approval of going ahead with the project bids were awarded from those certified correct to date. Additional bids will be approved March 24. Supervisor Griffiths voted no.
Land use changes were approved for Robert R. Davenport in the Town of Arena, Dean Oimoen in the Town of Brigham, Donald and Allison Stroud in the Town of Clyde, David Rule in the Town of Dodgeville, Steve and Marsha Bertram in the Town of Mifflin, Randall and Micah Busser and John Conway in the Town of Ridgeway and Joseph and Melinda Glick in the Town of Waldwick.
The board approved an amendatory ordinance revising the Iowa County Comprehensive Plan and the Iowa County Sanitary Ordinance.
A governmental responsibility resolution for participation in the targeted runoff management grant program was approved.
A pay grade reclassification for the Public Health Community Coordinator-Educator was approved and will be paid for by a grant.
The board voted to move the start time for summer board meetings to 7 p.m. starting in April.

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