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Lake County voters give jail levy thumbs down

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POLSON – The Lake County jail and courthouse will remain as is for now after voters overwhelmingly rejected the Lake County Criminal Justice Center and Operations Levy request. 

In a special countywide mail-in election held on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the unofficial count came in at 4,638 against the levy and 2,446 for the levy. 

“For or against, it was a difficult decision for all and the outcome of the vote was not a huge surprise,” wrote Lake County Commissioner William Barron in a press release to the media. “The commissioners were constantly being contacted by county residents advising they were voting against the levy.”

If the tax had been approved by voters, the proposed 20-year levy would have cost taxpayers up to $2.5 million annually to double the jail capacity to around 100 beds, help construct an additional district courtroom, provide office space for court and law enforcement staff and also provide new facility space for mental health, addiction and jail diversion programs.

According to county documents, the resulting fiscal impact for homeowners on a voter accepted levy would have been an estimated $50.40 per year on a home with a market value of $100,000; $100.79 per year on a home with a market value of $200,000; and $201.59 per year on a home with a market value of $400,000. 

“The commissioners are not giving up on these issues and have already been looking at other avenues of addressing them,” noted Barron. “We need a new detention center, we need to address the district court courtroom issues and we need to address the safety issues our detention staff and courts face on a daily basis. The residents need and deserve a justice system that works.”

As for now, the jail will continue to operate the same way it has been, which is at full capacity with deputies spending time off county roads to transport inmates to other facilities.

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