O’Fallon, Mo. leaders push justice center renovation bond issue

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 6:44 AM

 (KMOV) – The city of O’Fallon, Mo. said it’s out of room and money to get a new justice center built and parks renovated. City leaders admit getting voters to approve $52 million in bond issues will be a hard sell.  The fate of both projects goes to the voters in two weeks.

The current department was built as a school and redesigned in the late 1990s as a police department.

If voters approve Proposition J, a new justice center would be built and include a larger police department and municipal courts.

City leaders have met with dozens of community groups, businesses and neighborhood associations with the message that the police department has run out of room.

The current department was designed for a city with a population of about 60,000.

“We currently are at 82,000 residents....our city has grown faster than anyone could possibility imagine and our police department has grown with it...they are literally busting at the seams,” said City Manager Tom Drabelle.

Not all residents of O’Fallon see the need. Todd Jasmine said, “There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be worked on other than businesses and buildings that we have...and the one we do have is kind of nice right now so I don’t see the reason to have a new one.”

Last week, only 32-percent of the voters approved a sales tax for jail expansion project in St. Clair County. It was the same number supporting a bond issue for renovations in Madison County.

For Prop J, 58-percent of the voters must approve for it to pass.

“I would say in today’s political world anything close to sixty percent is generally considered a landslide and you don’t get many landslide elections on any topic no matter what it is so absolutely 58 percent is a challenge,” said Drabelle.

If both Proposition J and P for the parks pass, it would mean a homeowner with a house valued at $200,000 would pay $58 more a year.

Drabelle said the turnout two weeks from Tuesday is expected to be about ten percent of the voters.

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