Current Ad Hoc Jail Project Committee Update From Washburn County Board Chairman, Dave Wilson

Correcting Misinformation: Washburn County Clarifies Facts on Jail Situation.

Current Ad Hoc Jail Project Committee Update From Washburn County Board Chairman, Dave Wilson

SHELL LAKE, WI — Washburn County is in the midst of a critical decision-making process regarding the construction of a new jail, with no final decision yet made, according to a press release from Washburn County Board Chairman, Dave Wilson.

The county's committees are diligently gathering information to ensure the most fiscally responsible choice for its citizens and taxpayers. Efforts include collaboration with state-level partners to secure funding sources and the development of a comprehensive website to provide transparent information to the public. Scheduled for May, public town hall meetings aim to engage citizens and address concerns directly. Washburn County seeks to dispel misinformation and clarify key points, emphasizing the need for informed decision-making and public involvement in this marathon-like process.

Press Release

Washburn County has not made a decision yet regarding whether we are building a jail or not building a jail. Our Finance, Public Property, Law Enforcement, Information Technology, and Administrative committees are still gathering information. Their main goal is to make the best fiscally responsible decision for the citizens and taxpayers of our county. The Administrative team has been working with state-level partners in an attempt to secure funding sources to help cut down on the cost.

Our professional services group has been working hard at designing not only a new possible jail but also a website that will be available to the public, which will give our citizens and taxpayers as much information as possible. It was decided at our last meeting on February 13th to hold public town hall meetings in May. These dates are still being determined but the intent is to hold them at four different municipalities throughout Washburn County. A letter listing these meetings and website information will be sent to all tax addresses as well as our local media and on our county website. At these meetings, our professional services group should have an estimate of what we could be looking at regarding a tax increase. We want our citizens to be able to come and ask questions and hear the facts before any decision is finalized.

There are a few things that have been said in the public that are not factual and I wanted to take a moment to correct these statements.

  1. “Our jail currently has 69 beds.” Answer: No, we currently have 30 beds plus 1 holding cell.
  2. “Washburn County initiated a new jail conversation.” Answer: No, the State of Wisconsin and the Department of Corrections have stated we need to make a change due to being out of compliance. They will shut down portions of our jail if we do not start resolving the non-compliance issue. This is what started the new jail discussion.
  3. “The new jail will cost over $100 million.” Answer: We do not know what the end cost will be, it has not been finalized.

I can appreciate the public's apprehension as it relates to a potential fiscal impact on our taxpayers. Information will be available to you prior to the town hall meetings. This potential project is a marathon-style race, not a sprint.

-- Per Dave Wilson, Washburn County Chairman

Last Update: Feb 21, 2024 11:26 am CST

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