County officials consider law-enforcement renovations


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Johnson County Courthouse and Johnson County Jail weigh heavily on the Board of Supervisors following two failed justice-center proposals in recent years.

“Just because people didn’t vote for it, the issue didn’t go away,” said Supervisor Terrence Neuzil.

The supervisors have decided to put the courthouse and jail on the ballot again in November, with a somewhat different approach. This time, the two facilitiess may be proposed separately.

The issue has been in the political pipeline since 2012, when the first of two proposals for the facilities failed to reach the necessary 60 percent vote. Another proposal failed in May 2013. Since then, the supervisors have held several public input meetings, as well as discussion in their own meetings about the issue.

The problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible, Neuzil said, because the price of the project will continue to rise.

“If we wanted to do the exact same thing [we proposed before], it just went up [by 5 percent],” he said. “It doesn’t get cheaper; it just keeps getting more expensive.”

The cost of the project could be as much as $50 million, Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said.

Though the past proposals have placed the facilities together, the supervisors are now considering splitting the options into separate ballot items, Neuzil said. The officials hope a split ballot would be more appealing to the county voters.

But the supervisors have to agree on that decision.

“Eventually, the board has to come up with the realization, do we want to put both those issues on the ballot or not,” he said.

The jail was the cause of many of the negative votes in the previous proposals, Supervisor Rod Sullivan said, which was the motivation for the supervisors to possibly separate the two facilities.

“The huge majority of the complaints that I hear are not about the courthouse, they’re about the jail,” he said. “It’s just a matter of what the public will allow us to do.”

Sullivan said he would prefer to move forward with the courthouse and focus on the jail in the future.

Rettig agreed the supervisors should prioritize the courthouse over the jail. Security and space in the courthouse are pressing issues, she said, and the supervisors should address it separately if they can.

Rettig warned the space shortage and security concerns could lead to a disaster, and the supervisors shouldn’t wait to act.

“Right now, anybody can walk into the courthouse,” she said. “Has anyone gotten shot? No. But do we want to wait for that?”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.