Could wind project fund new jail?

Daily Iowegian file photoThe Centerville Law Center, built in 1974, continues to suffer from maintenance and space issues. Wind turbines may create an opportunity to replace it.

Officials are studying whether tax-increment financing on the proposed wind turbine project in eastern Appanoose County could fund a new jail and law enforcement center.

If the proposal were to take shape and make it through the hurdles, millions to build a new jail and law enforcement center could come from those wind turbines, and not the general taxpayer.

An informational presentation in April by a representative of Farm Bureau estimated $9 million or more could be financed from creating a TIF district around the wind turbines. The TIF district would allow the county to capture the tax assessments on the increase in valuation created by the wind turbines.

More than 100 wind turbines are expected to be placed in Appanoose and Davis counties in Iowa, and Schuyler County, Missouri. Exactly how many will be in Appanoose County, and thus could be taxed within the TIF district, isn't yet certain. Therefore the dollar amounts could raise or lower depending on that result.

At an Appanoose County Service Agency meeting Thursday, it was speculated it could be 2-4 years before a jail project using TIF proceeds could be started. It will be up to the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors to make decisions first, including whether or how to implement the TIF district to begin with.

Appanoose County has twice tried to construct a new jail and law enforcement center via a property tax through a bond referendum. Both times they failed to get 60 percent support of the project county-wide. However, their second attempt in 2017 did receive 52 percent approval.

In the run-up to both votes, officials noted the now 40-plus-year-old facility they currently inhabit was going to need maintenance if a new facility wasn't constructed.

Sheriff Gary Anderson told the service agency Thursday that nearly two weeks ago the law center's emergency power generator caught fire during testing. The insurance company, he said, believes the issue could have been lightning-related but never the less the generator is a 1998 model.

The cost of a new model was quoted at $17,939 — the low bid of several received — with an additional $4,250 for a local company to wire it. Insurance has offered around $7,900 toward the repair of the generator or replacement of it. Currently, a backup generator is being rented, and a replacement generator could be two months from being installed.

Anderson proposed spreading the cost of about $5,000 each between three entities: the Centerville Police Department, Appanoose County Sheriff's Office and the Appanoose County E-911. The service agency was approving of that scenario.

Additionally, problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning continue. Anderson stated some rooms in the law center aren't being cooled, but technicians haven't yet narrowed down the issue.

"It was 88 degrees out, it was 81 degrees in the office, and it was turned down to 68 degrees just to try and see if it would even do anything," Anderson said.

Kyle Ocker can be reached at kocker@dailyiowegian.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Editor

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Daily Iowegian. Prior to becoming editor, Ocker was a correspondent, sports editor and associate editor at the Daily Iowegian, and was the managing editor of the Knoxville Journal-Express.

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