Despite narrow defeat of bond referendum, Allamakee County Sheriff "encouraged" by 'yes' votes

Committee welcomes public to meet November 18


The $4.9 million bond referendum to construct a new Allamakee County Jail and Public Safety Center earned the support of the majority of Allamakee County voters Tuesday, November 4, but fell just short of the 60% super majority required for passage. The ballot measure earned the approval of 2,777 voters, while 1,923 opposed the measure and 642 voters made no selection either way.

"I was encouraged by the percentage of 'yes' votes," Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick said. "It shows that the public is interested in finding a resolution to the jail issues we'll face in the near future."

Mellick said that he and the Public Safety Center Committee would continue to work with the Board of Supervisors and the public to find a fiscally responsible solution. He said that the Committee will meet Tuesday, November 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room on the lower level of the Allamakee County Courthouse to discuss the recent vote and comments from the public and try to determine what more could be done to better educate the public about the need for the project. He added that all members of the public are welcomed and encouraged to attend the meetings of the Public Safety Center Committee.

If the Committee determines that another bond referendum would be appropriate, a special election could be held as early as March of 2015. "This issue is time sensitive due to the upcoming effective date of the federal law that will eventually force the closure of the current jail," Mellick said. He explained that the construction of a new facility would take approximately two years and that if the current jail is forced to close before the new facility is ready, the County will incur additional expenses housing its prisoners elsewhere.

"We want to do this project right," Mellick said. "We have a good design and the Committee did a good job to get us to this point while keeping the best interest of the public in mind. I want to thank everyone on the Committee and the local media for their excellent coverage of this issue from the very beginning."