FAQ – NOV 6th BOND ELECTION
In the November 6, 2018 General Election voters will be asked to decide on:
Rockwall County Law Enforcement and Detention Facility Bond Proposition A
Question: How were the Rockwall County Bond priorities established?
Answer: The $50.27 million bond proposition has been submitted for voter determination only after an extensive process involving public input, and thorough current and long-range needs assessments by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (2013 and 2016) and a professional engineering consulting service (2018). For a copy of the planning reports including recommendations, please visit the Rockwall County website.
Question: Why are the Rockwall County Jail Expansion bonds being proposed?
Answer: The current facility was built in 1988. It has been 18 years since Rockwall County renovated or expanded the Jail. Since 2000, Rockwall County’s population has increased by over 125% - 54K residents.
Currently Rockwall County is paying to transport and house inmates in other counties due to lack of capacity. This costs the county around $500,000 a year.
Jail population models forecast (from 2013, 2016, and 2018) indicate a need for as many as 528 beds by 2033.
The existing support functions (such as medical, food service, laundry) are inadequate for the current size of the facility.
Also, the county has incurred significant costs to maintain the 30+ year old building, which is at the end of its life span.
The older portions of the jail do not meet current facility or operational standards.
Question: What is the current Jail population now and projected?
Answer: Currently the Jail population is averaging 249 inmates, with 30 and up to 50 inmates being housed in other counties. Future population and Jail high growth rate model projections show a need for upwards of 400 inmates.
Question: Will the proposed Rockwall County bond proposition increase the property tax rate?
Answer: The bond proposition is expected to have a .016 impact per $100 of property tax value. For an average Rockwall home of $240,000 that is $32.00 dollars per year.
Question: What are the Rockwall County Law Enforcement and Detention Center Bond priorities?
Answer: The proposed $50.27 million bond package will:
- Increase the maximum capacity to house 400+ inmates
- Add Mental & Behavioral Health Facilities (add approximately 20 beds)
- Adds 352 new beds + 26 infirmary & mental health beds
- Retains 48 existing beds
- Right size inadequate support services (food, laundry, medical) for current and future populations
- Upgrades and consolidates the data and security systems
- Renovates inadequate areas of the existing facility
- Renovates some Operational and administrative areas
- Provides indirect supervision, which may improve safety
- Reduces need for additional staff
- Projected Operational savings of $22M versus current jail configuration over 20 years
Question: Who uses the facility, is the Rockwall County Jail population made up of Rockwall residents?
Answer: No. Rockwall County’ residents make up only about 30% of the jail population. The County is required by the State to house State inmates, there were 202 in 2018 alone. Also other inmates come from these sources:
- City of Rockwall
- City of Rowlett
- City of Royce City
- City of Heath
- City of Fate
- City of Wylie
- City of Dallas
- Rockwall County Constable
- U.S. Marshals Service
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife
- U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
- Rockwall County District Attorney’s Office (Investigations)
- Texas Attorney General’s Office
Question: How much has the demand increased for Rockwall County Jail space?
Answer: Over the past 10 years, the Rockwall County Detention Facility has experienced a 49.1% increase in jail population.
Question: What about future Jail needs?
Answer: The expanded facility will be designed with the ability to add space in the future if needed.
Question: Can the existing facility be reused?
Answer: The existing facility will be used to the maximum extent possible to save funding. The oldest portion of jail dates back to 1988 and is no longer suitable for use due to poor facility conditions and the cost to maintain.
Question: Will the County have to purchase new land for the project?
Answer: No new land is needed; there is sufficient space on the existing site.
Question: Why not build a complete new structure and tear down the old one?
Answer: The County commissioned a full Needs Assessment, which indicated that expansion and renovation would be more cost effective than a complete new structure.
Question: Will the new expanded jail require more staff and cost more to operate?
Answer: No, the new design would allow for 124% capacity growth with virtually no increase in staff. Per the Needs Analysis report the savings in operating expenses are estimated at $22M over the next 20 years.
Question: What if the jail population doesn’t grow as fast, will the extra space be vacant?
Answer: No. The new housing pods are replacing the inadequate housing, not just for growth. The new design will be modular and phased, so pods can be added if growth exceeds projections, or removed from the project if growth trends do not meet projections.
Question: Where is Rockwall County Law Enforcement and Detention Center Expansion Bond Proposition A located on the ballot?
Answer: Rockwall County Jail Expansion Proposition A is located at the bottom of the November 6th, 2018 ballot (after the partisan candidate elections).
Question: What is the ballot language for Rockwall County Law Enforcement and Detention Center Expansion Bond Proposition A?
Answer: The ballot language will ask voters to vote "For" or "Against" the following proposition:
“The issuance of $50,270,000 bonds for designing, expanding, constructing, improving and equipping Rockwall County law enforcement and detention center facilities, and the levy of a tax in payment thereof.”
Question: When does early voting start for the Tuesday, November 6, 2018 election?
Answer: Senior and disabled voters are able now to request ballots by mail. In-person early voting is from Monday, October 22nd through Friday, November 2nd.
Question: Where can I get additional information on the Bond Proposition A and polling locations/hours?
Answer: For additional information about the election including early voting and Election Day voting, please visit the Rockwall Election Office.