New Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center Up for Vote in Warren County

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INDIANOLA, Iowa  --  Tuesday, residents of Warren County can vote on a 20-year bond referendum for a new law enforcement center and courthouse. But, this isn’t the first time the plan has been up for a vote.

Back in 2016 the public voted against the plan to build a new courthouse and law facility center. Committee chairs said it was because there wasn’t any plan for the size, location or cost of the new building.

The new plan has the size of the proposed building at 80,000 square feet, almost two and a half times the size of the current building. Project committee chairs say the proposed building will bring several departments together in one location.

“It will bring everybody back together from the courts perspective and law enforcement so the county attorney, the court services, emergency management will actually have a space in here too, along with the supporting activities that go with it, dispatch and that kind of thing,” Warren County Law Enforcement Center and Courthouse Committee Chair Randy Cairns said.

The old building will be completely demolished, and the proposed building will take its place.  There are not exact floor plans yet, but renderings show how the $30 million building will look. The project would involve four courtrooms, 15 holding beds and 72 inmate housing beds. If approved, the average Warren County homeowner would pay an additional $100 in property taxes per year. Project committee chairs said the proposed building will bring more money into Warren County in the long run.

“Some people think that voting no or not voting will have a different effect on their taxes than voting for it. But right now, we are spending upwards of $740,000 as budgeted for inmate housing alone and another $200,000 to $250,000 for transport so we’re going to spend a million dollars in Jasper County and surrounding counties or we’re going to spend it in Warren County,” Cairns said.

The plan needs an approval vote of 60% plus one in order to pass. If approved, construction would begin in April 2019 and is expected to be completed in May 2021.

Voting is open Tuesday August 7th from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. There are fewer polling places than normal so be sure to check your polling location before heading out to vote.

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