The Ada County Board of County Commissioners is having a public hearing Tuesday to discuss how to pay for two major projects here at the ACSO: To find, furnish, and open another driver’s license office somewhere in western Ada County — and to buy land and plan for an expansion of the Ada County Jail
I believe both of the ACSO projects are essential for us to continue to provide a high level of service to the community.
It’s no secret many people have had to endure long lines and wait times at our Driver’s License Office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane office over the last few years. The relentless population growth in Ada County over the last decade or so has caught up to us.
There is nothing we’d like better than to get our Driver’s License customers in and out in a reasonable amount of time.
We’ve made a lot of changes over the last year to try to improve customer experience like opening earlier and closing later every day; adding staff to keep as many of our 21 work stations open as possible; and creating an online appointment scheduling system.
We are working on adding a live “wait time” clock on our ACSO Driver’s License website (https://adacounty.id.gov/sheriff/services/drivers-licenses/), so you’ll be able to check that before heading over to the Benjamin Lane office. We don’t have an ETA yet, but we hope it will happen soon.
Even with all those changes, we still need a second Driver’s License Office to accommodate Ada County’s rapidly growing population — and it should be somewhere in the Meridian/western Ada County area.
If you have a strong feeling about this we invite you to attend a public hearing at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, July 9) at the public room at the Ada County Courthouse at 200 W. Front Street in Boise.
The commissioners are holding the hearing to discuss using approximately $5.6 million in foregone taxes to fund our projects and the necessary design work for a new Ada County Coroner’s Office facility.
As anyone who has spent even a little time lately in Ada County knows, the exploding population has put a significant strain on our infrastructure over the last decade: traffic jams, relentless road construction, long lines.
The Ada County Jail is no different. We are maxed out on bed space with no relief in sight.
We have made every effort to keep people who can safely be in the community out of jail with our wide variety of pretrial and alternative sentencing programs, yet we are above our operational capacity each day with Idaho Department of Correction inmates regularly accounting for 20% —or more — of our daily population.
(We can hold up to 1,116 inmates in our main jail building. Industry standards say jail population should be under 85 percent capacity to ensure maximum safety and efficiency. 85% = 948 inmates. Most days, we are well over 1,000 — and trending up).
We are maxed out for bed space, and our inmate-staffed kitchen and laundry are at the absolute limit for what they can manage each day.
Securing property and completing design work to build a new jail pod and make other structural improvements to the current space will have us ready to move when time comes for construction – saving Ada County money in the long run while preserving community safety.
Keeping Idaho’s largest and most secure jail running smoothly and meeting the needs of our community is essential to our mission to make sure Ada County remains a safe place to live, work, and play.
We know you likely have questions. Keep an eye on this page in the weeks and months to come. When we have answers, we’ll share them here.
Sheriff Steve Bartlett