BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Benton County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council met on September 14 and unanimously adopted a resolution in support of the general election ballot questions to expand and operate the Benton County Jail.

In a press release from the county, the council said that it “recognizes that Benton County’s continual population growth has put a strain on the criminal justice system and has led to overcrowding of the current jail facilities.” The release added that “an expansion is needed to provide adequate facilities for the future population of Benton County, increase mental health assessment, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs among other improvements.”

There were 13 council members present for the vote, including one appearing virtually. Eight were absent.

“I am thankful the mayors of our great communities have recognized the importance of preserving our quality of life here in Benton County, and ensuring the safety of our families in the future,” said Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway.

“The unanimous passage of this resolution is a resounding message to all Benton County citizens that our mayors and police departments support the critical role a safe, right-sized and well-run jail plays in our ability to ensure public safety and protect our quality of life”, said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring.

“This expansion of the jail is critical to the safety of Rogers residents and of Benton County as a whole,” said Mayor Greg Hines of Rogers. “I saw first-hand the need to expand the facility and ensure the safety of our community. I support this expansion and believe it will provide sufficient space to protect the public.”

“I am grateful that the mayors in Benton County unanimously recognized the need to prioritize public safety,” said Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith. “For our community to remain one of the best places in America to live, work, and raise a family, we must invest in the infrastructure we need to keep criminals off our streets.”

“As the City of Bella Vista continues to welcome in new residents, the safety of the community is a pivotal pillar for the Bella Vista Police Department and the City,” said Mayor Peter Christie of Bella Vista. “The additional space and increased funds into inmate rehabilitation are critical to continuing to keep our area as one of the safest in the Country. We wholeheartedly support the expansion of the Benton County jail facility.”

Benton County voters will decide whether to support the expansion and operation of the criminal justice facility expansion through two ballot initiatives in November. The first initiative will ask voters to support a county-wide one-fourth (.25%) sales and use tax to operate and maintain the jail facility.

The second initiative will ask voters to support levying a county-wide one-eighth (.125%) sales and use tax for the purpose of financing the criminal justice expansion. The one-eighth sales and use tax will expire after the principal amount of improvements and construction has been paid off.

The Benton County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council is comprised of the 20 cities within Benton County, the Benton County Judge, and Benton County Clerk. The Council meets annually in a public meeting to review and discuss services and issues relevant to the public.