Ward County Jail Election: Everything You Need to Know

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.

Election Day:

Tuesday February 24th, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

Polling Locations:

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.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, SavorMinot Advocate. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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2 comments on “Ward County Jail Election: Everything You Need to Know

Krisi Kibbe Senechal

So how are the operating expenses going to be paid? The sales tax won’t be used for that. New jailers will have to be hired. If they hire an additional 20 jailers (since the number of beds/inmates could potentially double) at say $35,000 a year that would be $700,000 in just wages. That doesn’t include training, benefits or raises for existing employees.

Josh Wolsky

Hey Krisi,
Excellent question, I’ll attempt to reach Sheriff Kukowski on Monday for an answer.

My own thoughts… I don’t think it would be necessary to immediately double the amount of staff just because we have the room. Staff increases and operational costs will certainly rise, but it seems more likely that they’ll be added incrementally as the population of the jail requires them.

And though I didn’t include it in the sound clips above, Sheriff Kukowski did speak to the fact that with added capacity, the jail would be able to accept inmates from other agencies and jurisdictions.

Based on what we’re paying to house our inmate obligations in other facilities… it seems logical to me that if we were able to accept inmates from other places, revenue generated from providing that service may help cover some new operational costs.

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