You could see your property tax bill rise by approximately $40 on a $200,000 home in exchange for replacing the state’s oldest and smallest county jail. Members of the Jail Planning Committee in Kewaunee County have spent the last two years paring down the project to differentiate the wants and the needs of the project. The third phase of the project has focused on the floor plans and the specifics of the building, making sure it was at its absolute lowest costs while not forfeiting operational effectiveness. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski is proud of their work in the seven years they have spent looking at improving its public safety facility. He says it is important to have the backing of the community whether they take the project to a referendum or not.
Joski highlighted the May 17th and June 21st meetings as important ones for community members to attend to learn more about the future public safety building and make their voices heard. You can read a full update from Joski below.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
Over the past seven years of planning for our Jail project, I have provided numerous updates and overviews through these articles as well as at local meetings and events. The fact that I have not provided such an update in quite a while is by no means an indicator that we have not been actively submersed in this planning process. There has in fact been a great deal of work that has been going on and I would like to provide an update of where we currently are in this planning process.
Our last major benchmark was embarking upon phase three of this project which provided us the opportunity to focus on floor plans and operational implications of the various options. The main focus of our work has been refinement. This means that we have looked at this project from every perceivable angle, and when possible reduced the size and scope so as to arrive at the absolute minimum costs, while maintaining operational effectiveness. I want to thank our County Administrator Scott Feldt and our Finance Director Paul Kunesh for their tireless work in maintaining accurate and relevant financial data throughout this process. I would like to thank our County Board members who have dedicated so much of their personal time in reflecting the needs and concerns of those that they represent. And finally to the Command Staff here at the Sheriff’s Department, for continually thinking outside the box in how we can maintain operations given the financial limitations in this current time.
Approximately two years ago we came forward with the original plan for this project which included facilities for the Jail, Dispatch, Sheriff’s Offices, and Evidence/ Equipment storage. These are typically the functions that get included into a project of this type, however when the cost estimations came back, we quickly realized we would need to approach this project much differently than other communities have in the past. Much like everything we do in local government, we had to differentiate between what we wanted to have and what we needed to have. In the end, the pressing issue has been and continues to be the Jail and the associated Dispatch Center, so with that we removed everything that was not directly related to those two pieces of operations and came back with a cost reduction of over 10 million dollars.
It was at this time that we were able to work with our Architects and Consultants to arrive at a final floor plan which we could then base an accurate project cost from. After many meetings and extensive refinements, the Jail Planning Committee approved the proposed floor plan just this past week. We were also provided with the impact that this refined project would now have on our property taxes. As it currently stands the impact to the tax bill of a $200,000 property would approximately $40.00 per year. While none of us ever wants to see any increase in our taxes, this is a minimal impact for a project that has plagued our community for over 20 years, and will provide us with a facility that will serve not just our generation, but our children’s and grandchildren’s generations. It is a project that provides the foundation for future phased growth based on the needs of those future generations.
The next step in this process may be the most critical, as we must now focus on providing updated information to the overall County Board as well as to our community. We will be updating our Board members at the next County Board meeting which will be held May 17th at 6:00 pm. At this meeting they will be given an update on the overall process as well as the accepted floor plan and associated costs. We will then have another meeting on June 21st where the Architects and Cost Estimators will be there to provide information and answer questions. It will be out of these two meetings that the Board will need to make the decision of whether to move forward or place this item on a referendum in the fall. This is also the opportunity for all of us as community members to become more familiar with this project. I would invite anyone who has any questions, to please feel free to reach out to me and I will answer any and all questions that I can. We are now in the final stretch of a project that has been 20 years in the making, and I am encouraged by all of the great input we have gotten over the past seven years of planning from so many throughout our community. I truly believe this is a project that we will be proud of upon its completion and will serve to not only house our inmate population, but more importantly provide the facility and resources to change lives for the better. It is my hope that in the future those who find themselves as residents of our jail can say it was the turning point in their lives that provided the roadmap to make them better members of our community. I can be reached at (920)255-1100. Thank you!