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Kewaunee County nudges forward with new jail

You may soon be able to let your voice be heard regarding a new jail in Kewaunee County.


The topic dominated the majority of Tuesday’s Kewaunee County Board meeting. Chairperson Dan Olson outlined the discussions that have been held since the board did not have the votes to move forward with Phase 3 of the jail project earlier this year. Born out of that vote was the Public Safety Facility Needs Assessment Committee, which searched for cost reductions and alternatives for an over $20 million facility. Approximately $500,000 is needed to make the immediate repairs to the facility. The state jail inspector has let the county know that the current facility is not good enough as it does not address a number of capacity, safety, and liability issues as Wisconsin’s smallest and oldest jail. The committee looked at contracting services from other facilities in neighboring counties, but over the long term, those costs would exceed the investment in a new facility. Approximately $3.1 million in savings were found, but those were gobbled up due to inflation. American Rescue Plan Act dollars and funding from the county could help make the final bill more palatable for voters, with Olson saying he would like to keep the impact for property to $100-$150 per year for a $200,000 home.


Kewaunee County Administrator Scott Feldt highlighted what would happen if the board did the bare minimum.

Olson said that as much as he disagrees with the requirements for jails set forth by the state, the county does not have a choice but to comply.

Because the jail topic was merely a discussion item on the agenda, no vote was taken. Further discussion will take place next month on whether the county should move forward with Phase 3, which will allow them to have more information about what a new facility could include and potential costs. The county board will then discuss whether it should be put up for a vote or not with two referendum questions: one addressing the building itself and another concerning the additional staff that would be needed. It will then be voted on if the referendum vote should take place in April 2022 or November 2022. You can watch the meeting below.


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