Madison County Board, residents sparring over jail project -

Madison County Board, residents sparring over jail project

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

( -- The Madison County Jail project has encountered opposition in the form of a growing grassroots movement to fight funding.

Bonds on Ballots was formed in October after the Madison County board approved spending $18 million on the crowded and outdated jail. Organizer Rod Spears says the group now has more than 100 volunteers.

In order to force a referendum, Bonds on Ballots will need to collect more than 17,000 valid signitures. Spears says, with about two weeks left, they have about 8,000.

“At least 90 to 95 percent of the people I talk to are either patting me on the back or thanking the people that are doing this for them, they feel that strongly about it,” said Spears.

The group takes issue not with the upgrades to the jail, but how the county is spending the money.

Spears questions why county leaders are seeking bonds to pay for the project and taxing property owners. Spears also takes issue with the county board approving the deal, and not asking voters to decide.

But board members don’t agree.

“This is something we don’t have to take to referendum,” said Madison County Board Chair Alan Dunstan.

Dunstan says Bonds on Ballots has every right to collect signitures, but the reason the board voted on the project and not the public, was that it would’ve failed.

“Sometimes when you’re in county government or any political office you have to make a decision for the people because you know more about the project than they know about the project,” said Dunstan.

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