Tuesday is a special election day in Ward County; this is the guide to making your decision.
What Are We Voting On?
In simplest terms, we’re voting on whether we allow the County to take out a bigger loan. In technical terms, we’re voting on an amendment to a sales tax law that we approved almost two years ago.
Why Are We Voting?
Because the original sales tax ordinance that we approved in 2012 had specific cost estimates and a total amount the County was allowed to borrow — $39.3 million. Dramatically different building costs have proved the original estimates far too low. The County needs more money to complete the project — this vote will allow the County to take out a loan (bond) big enough to finish the job — we need an extra $37 million.
Holy $#%&! We Need an Extra $37 Million? What Happened?
Two things changed. First, the original cost estimates are almost four years old. Building costs have gone up dramatically.
Second, the original plans called for a jail expansion of 84 beds. If we only expand the jail by 84 beds, the jail will be at capacity the day it opens. Sheriff Kukowski believes — and the County Commission agrees — that we should proactively increase the size of the expansion, so we aren’t immediately at capacity when new jail opens.
So This Election is Really About the Jail Expansion?
Yes. If the amendment is approved, we expand the jail. If the amendment fails, we don’t expand the jail.
So Do We Need to Expand the Jail?
Ultimately that decision is up to you, but Sheriff Kukowski believes strongly that we do need to expand the jail both for financial and law enforcement purposes. Here are his thoughts.
On the History, Capacity, and Expansion Plans…
On Who We’re Holding…
Want to see who we’re holding right now? Here’s the roster of inmates from February 19th.
On alternative options that have been explored…
If we don’t approve this, the cost to operate the jail and house inmates will go up dramatically…
On Construction Timeline….
So This Doesn’t Raise the Sales Tax or Extend the Orignal Sunset Date?
No. It Does NOT Raise the Sales Tax or Extend the Original Sunset Date. It does allow the County to borrow more money against the sales tax revenue than originally approved. As a result, the lifespan of the sales tax will be closer to the full ten years. Because the tax is generating more revenue than forecast, it would likely have been retired early. In other words, we weren’t going to need the full ten years to pay off the original loan amount of $39.3 million.
What Does This New Jail Look Like?
Ballot Language & Election Details
Ward County Ordinance
Ward County Commissioners amend Ward County Ordinance 2012-1 to clarify the existing one half of one percent (0.5%) sales tax and authorized additional spending and the sale of additional bonds for purposes of construction of the office building, renovation of the courthouse, jail expansion, and infrastructure. These funds would be payable from the existing one-half of one percent (0.5%) sales tax and does not extend the sales tax, previously approved by voters, past December 31, 2022
Shall Ward County be authorized to amend Ward County Ordinance 2012-1 as outlined in Ward County Ordinance 2014-1?
Yes — means you approve the Ward County Ordinance 2014-1 amendment to Ward County Ordinance 201-1 as summarized above.
No — means you reject the Ward County Ordinance 2014-1 amendment to Ward County Ordinance 2012-1 as summarized above.
Tuesday February 24th, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Minot NE: 1st Presbyterian Church
Minot SE: 1st Assembly of God
Minot SW: MAYSA Arena
Minot NW: Christ Lutheran Church
Afton: Our Savior Lutheran Church
Berthold: Senior Citizen Center
Burlington: City Hall
Des Lacs: City Hall
Harrison: Ward County Courthouse
Kenmare: Memorial Hall
Makoti: Senior Citizen Center
Nedrose: State Fair Center
North Central & Ruthville: Lynch Immanuel
Ryder: Senior Citizen Center
Sawyer: City Hall
South Prairie: South Prairie School
Sundre: Bell School
Surrey: City Hall
Want the Minot Voice Opinion? Tune in Sunday for our Editorial on the election.