Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – How to pay for it remains to be seen, but Dearborn County will have a jail expansion after a vote by county council Tuesday.
Council voted 4-2 at their regular November meeting to proceed with the project. Council members Jim Hughes and Dan Lansing were the dissenting votes, asking that the issue go to a referendum before county voters instead. Council president Dennis Kraus did not cast a vote.
Commissioners voted 2-1 on November 1 to send the jail expansion funding to Council. Commissioners Shane McHenry and Tom Orschell were the supporters while Jeff Hughes – brother to Jim Hughes – voted against the project. Hughes has said the project should go to the voters.
Council’s decision to proceed allows the county to begin advertising for request for proposals. Commissioners could soon begin taking bids from companies.
Council did not decide on how exactly to fund the project estimated to cost between $8.4 million and $9.3 million.
The council must decide to use the county’s Riverboat Revenue account to fund either part of or the entire expansion. However, there is uncertainty whether council needs a unanimous 7-0 vote to tap into that fund, or just a simple majority. County attorney Andrew Baudendistel was asked to research the issue and report back.
When the county first began receiving riverboat money in 1998, council began writing a measure into the county’s annual budgets that a unanimous vote would be required for council to spend any portion of that money. The measure was meant to prevent the savings account from being depleted for just any need that arose.
With Hughes and Lansing voting against the project Tuesday, it would appear council does not have that unanimous support.
If riverboat revenue is not an option, council could elect to pay for the jail expansion through bonding.
A decision on riverboat funding could be made at County Council’s next meeting Tuesday, December 20.
The jail expansion as designed by RQAW, the engineering firm hired by the county, would increase the number of beds at the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center from 260 to 336, with the potential space for another 78 beds.