A holding cell at the Dearborn County Law
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Some members of Dearborn County Council thought they were putting a jail referendum on the ballot during last month’s council meeting, but others did not.
County council had supposedly voted 4-3 on May 24 to send the issue to a referendum, meaning it would be up to voters to decide whether to fund the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center project estimated as high as $14.8 million.
When Dearborn County Commissioners met Tuesday, there was debate whether the vote actually counted or if council was only polling itself to see where support for a referendum was.
In the audience at the commissioners meeting, council members Liz Morris and Maynard Barrett said the vote was only a polling of the council, but fellow councilman Jim Hughes perceived it as a real vote.
“I’ve got council members who say it was and I’ve got members who say it wasn’t,” commissioner Jeff Hughes told Eagle 99.3 Wednesday. “Either way, they’ve given us an idea that it will go to a referendum.”
Dearborn County Auditor Gayle Pennington, who keeps the minutes for the council meetings, said the record states there was no official vote.
“It was basically just a straw poll. Commissioner (Tom) Orschell asked how they felt,” she said.
County commissioners still need to decide an exact plan for the expansion before it can go to council to be considered for a referendum. Jeff Hughes said council could vote on architect and engineering firm RQAW’s proposal as soon as next month.
“I’d like to see it go to a vote. If that’s what the team comes up with and they don’t think they can go any lower I’ll vote on it,” Hughes said.
Hughes said there have also been questions relating to using riverboat revenue funds to pay for part of the jail expansion.
That question will be answered when council and the commissioners meet jointly next Wednesday evening, June 29 to discuss rules concerning the conduct of the referendum and to have the process clarified. The meeting will be held at the Dearborn County Administration Building, 215 B West High Street, Lawrenceburg, beginning at 6:30 p.m.