CENTERVILLE — As the community will soon be asked to decide whether to re-allocate sales tax dollars to build a new jail and law enforcement center in Appanoose County, work has begun on a potential lease agreement.

A new law center would change the relationship between the county and city over what is currently in place for the current facility. Since the new facility would be larger, the city and county would no longer split the square footage evenly as they do today. Currently, expenses are roughly split, based upon the agreement that forms the Appanoose County Service Agency.

Centerville City Administrator Jason Fraser on Monday presented a draft of a new agreement that would involve the county and city to the supervisors for review. The agreement would see the city become a tenant of the county’s facility in the relationship. At this stage, it’s just a proposal. The Centerville City Council was slated to hear a presentation on the agreement for the first time at their meeting Monday evening.

For 19 years, it would call for what is essentially lease payments based on roughly 23% of the cost of building the facility. The 23% figure is determined by the expected square footage the city’s police department will be using out of the facility.

The agreement would be perpetual, and would also have the city sharing 23% of utility and maintenance costs.

The proposed agreement is only relevant if the community opts to move forward with the construction of the new public safety center.

A special election is being held in many areas of Appanoose County on Sept. 8. Ballot language varies by area, but in general, multiple cities and the unincorporated areas of the county will be voting to reallocate a portion of their local option sales tax proceeds toward the project.

If supported by a majority of voters, leaders will secure funding for the project without the use of property taxes, which has been a top request from citizens they said. They would need to hold another vote in the spring of 2021 to ask for final approval for the project from voters and get permission from voters to borrow the money from future local option sales tax revenues to fund the construction.

Appanoose County’s inmate population has exceeded the capacity of the current facility since 1992. The current facility can hold eight inmates per state jail regulations, and the average daily population is roughly 23 inmates.

All unincorporated areas of the county will vote in the Sept. 8 election, as will voters in the cities of Centerville, Exline, Cincinnati, Mystic, and Numa.

A community meeting is scheduled for voters to learn more on Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Lelah Bradley Park at 25100 520th St. in Centerville. Attendees should bring lawn chairs and plan to social distance.

In other action:

• Supervisors approved the hiring of two deputy sheriffs — Robert Houser and Chad Chidester. The hirings fill two of the four current vacancies at the sheriff’s office.

• Supervisors continued a discussion related to complaints they’ve received from veterans not being able to reach the local county administrator of veteran’s affairs. The Veteran’s Affairs administrator Trista McClurg said the local board of directors decided to decline the county’s offer to move the VA headquarters, but said she has worked with Windstream to improve phone accessibility. Ultimately, she and board members said, her part-time position precludes her from being accessible throughout the week and limits their ability to respond quickly.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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