Douglas County ready to put $45M bond to work

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) -- County leaders are ready to cash in on the $45 million public safety bond just passed this week by voters. Technology is constantly changing and can only last so many years. The 14-year-old radios local law enforcement currently carry are at the end of their life span.

"Let's think of a car, your laptop or your phone, if you have one that is that old, you know it's going to go bad. And now the parts are not being supported, so we can't even get new parts,” said Capt. Eric Sellers.

Fortunately for Captain Sellers the $45 million bond that will buy new radios passed with flying colors on Election Day. Joe Lorenz is Douglas County's finance director; he says the money will be divided up several ways. First $25 million will go to the 911 call center. It's not moving far, but the Douglas County 911 Communication Center that is currently located in the Sheriff's office is upgrading and relocating. It will be moved to the Fitzgerald building just a few feet away.

The Fitzgerald building will also get a complete overhaul. The County Treasurer's License Plate Office and Emergency Management Office will move into the building. The improvements will be made possible because voters approved the bond with an incredible amount of support.

"Was it a big sigh of relief?” asked reporter Erin Murray.

“Oh yeah, we were always cautiously optimistic. But when we saw it went through two to one, it was like, yeah, because this has to be done,” Lorenz responded.

The bond will also help with upgrades inside the jail and all the alert systems at fire stations. County commissioners and staff said through revenue increases and cost reductions there will be no tax increases. Officials said the bonds will be repaid over a 20-year period. During the first 5 years the payments will be interest-only to minimize the county's debt.

"Having them attached the bond is just fiscally responsible to the tax payers because it's not set to raise any taxes. It is just set to be paid out of bonds that are expiring,” said Sellers.

Lorenz says the city will cash the bond in February. From there they will start to draw up plans and hire contractors. They hope that all construction will be done 12 to 18 months after February.