DALLAS COUNTY, Iowa -- Absentee ballots are now available in Dallas County as voters are asked to approve funding for a new law enforcement center.
Dallas County Law Enforcement Officials are hoping the fourth time is a charm as it sets their sites on another county-wide vote for a new jail.
In mid March, Sheriff Chad Leonard held an hour long informational meeting in Granger to explain the county's need for a new $22.9 million dollar law enforcement center that's been voted down 3 times now.
The county ranks tenth in total population with over 80,000 residents but is thirty-sixth in the amount of beds they provide for inmates. The over 56,000 square foot facility would free them from operating at capacity and increase their current inmate bed total from twenty six to one hundred and thirty. The increase in beds would cut down on the $237,000 in taxpayer money they were forced to spend from July 2016 to January 2017 by transporting prisoners to Story County because capacity.
Sheriff Leonard believes a new approach will convince residents who may have been skeptical before. "Every community in Dallas County is going to get a town hall and we will probably do one for the major-metro communities in Dallas County in April. We have left no stone unturned." Leonard went on to say, "I think if the public knows how far behind we are and how far our jail is behind the times, that they'll get behind the Sheriff's office and support it."
The new facility would increase property taxes in Dallas county $1.24 a month on a $100,000 home. The vote is scheduled for May 2nd. A similar proposal in 2015 failed after receiving fifty-two percent approval. The bond referendum would need yes votes from at least sixty percent of Dallas County voters.