Meetings slated to talk county jail tax

Six public meetings have been scheduled on the upcoming Platte County ballot measure to create a half-cent sales tax to fund expansion of the Platte County Detention Center.

The meetings will be held:

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16 at Platte County Community Center South in Parkville

  • 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 18 at the West Platte Fire Station

  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at Platte County Community Center North in Platte City

  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at the Riverside Community Center

  • 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at the Camden Point Fire Station

  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28 at the Platte County Resource Center

On Tuesday, April 2, Platte County voters will be asked to approve the following ballot measure:

“Shall Platte County, Missouri impose a countywide sales tax at the rate of one half of one percent for a period of six and a quarter years from the date on which such tax is first imposed for the purpose of capital improvements, including without limitation the construction of a jail expansion and improvements to the existing jail and other county facilities?”

Details on this plan are still sketchy, although a website that will contain information on the commission’s plans for the funds has been created at According to county officials, information is currently under review by the county attorney.

The plan is based on a preliminary concept and cost estimate commissioned by sheriff Mark Owen last summer.

Owen and commissioner John Elliott were at the Platte City board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27 to discuss the tax.

“As commissioner, my tongue is somewhat tied on what I can share,” Elliott said. “I’m not here to ask for an endorsement or even advocate. I want to provide factual information.”

Elliott noted the current jail exceeded its design capacity and function three years ago and the 180-bed facility had more than 200 inmates at one point last year.

The commissioner said after narrowing down a list of 12 alternatives and options, the choices are down to two: 192-bed or a 208-bed options, both designed to allow growth beyond 20 years. He noted the extra space will benefit the courts, prosecuting attorney and allow equipment storage. He stressed the funds from tax, if passed, will not go toward the Zona Rosa Town Center infrastructure debt.

Owen was asked about the daily census and said swings in the jail population are the problem.

“The other day we were down to 140 and today, it is back up to 174,” he said. “Last year the high was 215. We have 15 ICE inmates on a day-to-day contract that we can terminate at any point if we need the beds for ourselves. I have 20 to 25 difference over a one-, two- or three-weeks swing. We are up and down and then have people out for the Department of Corrections and then the number lowers. We have been talking about this for years. We have people sleeping on the floor.”

The jail is considered ‘full’ at 85 percent capacity Owen said and some of that has to due with separation requirements. There are 30 bed for women, but currently only 22 are in use yet they can’t use the other eight open beds.

“We are constantly playing checkers to move and keep it a safe environment,” he said.

Treanor issued a report in August proposing a $43 million 330-bed facility. In addition to more space at the county detention center the Treanor proposal calls for construction of a new sheriff’s office and relocation of the prosecutor’s office from the courthouse to the administration building, freeing up space in the courthouse for establishment of an additional division of the Platte County Circuit Court.