Peterson inside jail cell photo

Winnebago County Sheriff Dave Peterson says the existing county jail does not have enough room to house all county inmates.

FOREST CITY | A majority of Winnebago County voters favored a $4.6 million public safety center project in a general obligation bond vote Tuesday, but it failed to get the required percentage to pass for the second time in about nine months.

The bond did not get the required 60 percent of the vote as it received 57.19 percent or 2,206 votes in favor and 1,651 no votes.

A March vote on a slightly larger project also failed.

"It's absolutely disappointing," Winnebago County Sheriff Dave Peterson said. "We went up (in yes votes from March) but not enough, obviously."

Supervisor Terry Durby was a member of a committee that recommended the public safety center to replace the existing law enforcement center and jail.

"I guess it will come to the supervisors to determine what the next step is," Durby said. "It will need to be discussed among the supervisors to start with."

The county board will have a new supervisor to discuss the law enforcement issue after Bill Jensvold of Buffalo Center was elected Tuesday. Jensvold replaces Warren "Willie" Wubben. Wubben died in September but was on the ballot in a nomination by petition after he did not run in the Democrat primary race.

The public safety center would have housed administrative offices for the county sheriff's department, emergency management and dispatch and a 22-bed jail in nine pods.

The location has not yet been finalized. County officials are still working to buy property along U.S. Highway 69 and Iowa Highway 9 in northern Forest City near the Lichtsinn RV Center and the A & W Restaurant.

The existing law enforcement center and jail on Clark Street in Forest City has structural issues and has been cited by the state jail inspector several years in a row for code violations.

Peterson said he was "absolutely concerned" that the state jail inspector could close the existing facility. "He has said once we stop moving forward ... ," Peterson said.

The $4.6 million bond costs would have included construction, administrative fees related to construction and a contingency. It does not include any land purchase price.

If approved the bond would have been paid back over 20 years at a 52 cent levy rate with an estimated bond interest rate of 4 percent.

A similar bond referendum for a project at cost of about $5.1 million failed in March. The overall size of the project had been reduced and the Forest City Police Department is not included in the project.


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