Kingman No Vote Won't End Jail Issue

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Kingman, Kan. --

Kingman County Commissioners say they remain as committed as ever at replacing what they say is an unsafe county jail and law enforcement center.

Now they're looking at their options for doing so despite a narrow rejection by voters on a quarter cent sales tax to fund it last week.

Kingman County Commission Chair John Steffen says, "We remain committed to a new law enforcement center. The needs have not changed. Our existing building poses several security and safety issues for both the jail and our employees."

The Law Enforcement Center housing the jail, Sheriff's office, Kingman police station and 911 dispatch center was built in 1959 with additions added in 1980.

Steffen says commissioners might reexamine space needs, perhaps building something smaller even though, he says, they'd rather build something that'll last and meet needs for a long time rather than just the next few years.

The project was estimated to cost $11.8 million.

Steffen says, "We feel it is a high estimate."

Some voters say it was the high project cost that prompted them to vote no.

Ron Pulsifer says, "Personally I'm not opposed to a new LEC but it does need to be brought down in cost. This county can not afford an 11.4 to 12 million dollar project."

Commissioner Carol Voran says, "There are other options in financing this. And just because this particular sales tax was voted down does not mean we are not looking at other options."

Those options could include using property taxes to fund it plus using payments the county receives each year from the Flat Ridge Wind farm.

Commissioners say they might even consider having another vote.

The final tally from last weeks vote was 803 no and 754 yes. That includes provisional ballots which were counted Monday.

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