Douglas County schedules informational meetings on jail expansion/mental health referendum

photo by: Mike Yoder

Douglas County Jail

Douglas County has scheduled four informational meetings on the half-cent sales tax referendum that would fund a $44 million expansion of the county jail and build an $11 million behavioral health campus.

Sarah Plinsky, assistant Douglas County administrator, said the meetings would be held in advance of the the Douglas County Clerk’s Office sending out mail-in ballots for the referendum on April 25. The times and dates of the meetings are:

• 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.

• 7 p.m Thursday, April 12, Lawrence Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive.

• 7 p.m. Monday, April 16, Baldwin City Library, 800 Seventh St.

• 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, Carnegie Building, Heritage Room, 200 W. Ninth St.

On the mail-in ballots, county voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax, which will generate an estimated $9.8 million annually to fund construction of the $44 million jail expansion and an $11 million behavioral health campus. The tax will also provide $5.1 million a year for new behavioral health programming and $1 million of the $6.1 million needed per year to operate an expanded jail. The ballots will be counted May 15.

Plinsky said all three county commissioners would attend the meetings with representatives of the sheriff’s office and behavioral health partnering agencies. Funding from the sales tax will allow Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, DCCCA, Heartland Community Health Center and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to offer services at the behavioral health campus and preventive outreach programs.