COUNTY BOARD CONSIDERS FUNDING OF JAIL CONSOLIDATION PROJECT
June 05, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair - 608.333.2285
Thursday 7 p.m. meeting to see vote on new construction plan
As Dane County works to replace its outdated facility with a smaller, safer jail, the Dane County Board is facing a decision on expenditures for the project.
On Thursday, the Board will consider adding funds to the plan approved in 2017 in order to build an eight-story tower behind, and connected to the existing Public Safety Building at 115 W. Doty St. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City-County Building and is open to the public.
The jail project, which combines three existing facilities into one, reduces the total number of beds in the system from 1,013 to 922. That reduction comes on top of a 41 percent drop in the overall jail population since 2007.
“Nobody likes spending money on jails but the reality is the longer we wait the more costs will increase,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). “At the end of the day we need to replace our outdated facilities for the safety of both staff and incarcerated individuals.”
Corrigan noted that Dane County is a national leader in working to reduce incarceration rates through efforts like electronic monitoring, pre-trial diversions and deferred prosecutions. The current jail population is around 750, with an additional 100 out on electronic monitoring.
“Local partners are key to further reducing our jail population and we are eager to deepen the efforts with law enforcement, State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections, as well as strong community peer supports focused on keeping folks on the right track” Corrigan noted.
Corrigan went on to say “I’m proud of the work we’ve already done and we will continue to do more to reduce our jail population -- even though we’re the fastest growing county in the state,” Corrigan said. “Every dollar we don’t spend on incarceration is a dollar we can use for other programs aimed at keeping people out of the criminal justice system in the first place.”
In 2017, County Supervisors approved a $76 million jail project to consolidate jail operations downtown by adding four floors to the Public Safety Building and remodeling the existing jail in that building. But the plan was abandoned after consultants found the Public Safety Building would not support that additional weight.
Corrigan noted that the additional funds are for the same programs as previously approved by the Board in 2017 only with a higher price tag due to the structural problems with the Public Safety Building. The price tag for the new design totals $148 million rather than the originally budgeted $76 million.
Also Thursday night, the Board will consider one of the largest land conservation purchases in Dane County history. The Board is to vote on spending nearly $10 million to acquire approximately 160 acres of property in the town of Springfield for addition to the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.
Purchase and restoration of the property is aimed at reducing sediment and phosphorus runoff, thereby improving water quality within both the Pheasant Branch Watershed and Lake Mendota itself. Scientists estimate that restoring this property to native vegetation will keep more than 550 pounds of phosphorus out of the lake. Just one pound of phosphorus can produce up to 500 pounds of algae.
On a related matter, the Board will also consider purchase of a conservation easement in the town of Springfield from owner Duane Wagner. The $956,000 easement includes 200 acres of prime cropland and a 10-acre manure storage facility that will be closed. The easement requires that future operators limit the number of livestock and submit a nutrient management plan to reduce runoff into the Yahara River watershed that feeds Lake Mendota.
“Both of these projects can assist in the fight to reduce weed growth in our lakes each summer,” said Corrigan. “It’s not going to happen overnight but we need to stay diligent.”
Two major road projects are also before the Board Thursday. They include reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road (County D) from the Beltline to McKee Road and reconstruction of Buckeye Road (County AB) from Monona Drive to U.S. 51. Both projects include cost sharing with the adjoining municipalities.
In addition, the Board will recognize June 15 as World Elder Abuse Day in Dane County. Every year more than two million disabled and elderly citizens are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect along with financial exploitation. Dane County alone investigated 479 reports of elder abuse in 2018.
The full meeting agenda is available at https://dane.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=643895&GUID=14662CAB-9B7D-443E-AE60-1C2CD956C116