Leaders in Sarpy County often name three major projects when discussing the fast-growing area’s future: a new jail, a mental health center and roads that adequately serve the population.

All three subjects are among the priorities of the county’s $176 million 2020 budget proposal.

If approved, the budget would keep the property tax rate at 29.69 cents per $100 of valuation, which would produce an expected $49.8 million. That figure would account for 28% of the total budget.

Under that rate, which has remained steady since 2002, the owner of a $200,000 home pays $593.80 a year in county property taxes.

Highlights of the proposed budget:

Increased funds for roads projects

At $22.9 million, the county’s proposed roads budget is several million dollars higher than the amounts budgeted in recent years, which generally fell between $14 million to $16 million.

County officials say the increase reflects a focus on improving the area’s 1,365 lane miles.

More than 50 roads projects are on deck for the new budget year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.

“There’s no doubt that we have to invest in infrastructure improvements across Sarpy County, and the budget committee has done an amazing job finding the money to do that without adding an extra burden on the Sarpy County taxpayer,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said in a statement.

About two dozen of the 54 projects have been identified as priorities, including:

  • Construction of a three-lane road near 108th Street and Platteview Road
  • Public safety improvements to the entire Platteview Road corridor
  • Construction of a two-lane road on Giles Road from 192nd to 204th Street

Some of the increased funding will come from unused portions of last year’s budget that roll into the next budget cycle.

A new jail

Sarpy County has been sounding the alarm for years about its 148-bed jail, which officials say is aging and overcrowded.

The number of inmates housed at the three-decade-old facility often swells beyond capacity. It also lacks the mental health resources that experts say are necessary to aid the jail’s population.

In this y

ear’s proposal, the county is marking $3.7 million for the project, which remains in the early planning stages. Conceptual plans have shown a three-story, $70 million jail that could be built on the current county government campus near Washington Street and Highway 370 in Papillion.

Those concepts are early mock-ups of what the jail could look like; the designs, cost and location could change as the county continues exploring its options.

Dan Hoins, Sarpy County’s administrator, said those dollars are part of the county’s long-term planning in connection with the jail. As the county decides where the facility will be built, how it will be funded and when construction will begin, it will need cash to make progress.

One potential major expense could be debt service on bonds, if the county pursues that option as a funding mechanism.

Last year’s county budget set aside about $7 million for building a new jail, including design work, land acquisition and construction costs down the road, though that full amount wasn’t expected to be spent.

Mental health center

Sarpy’s plans for a new jail are closely connected to plans for another major project: a mental health center.

The 2020 budget earmarks $1.25 million for a mental health crisis stabilization center that would serve those who need short-term mental health services and don’t belong in jail.

The $1.25 million figure was originally intended to go toward land acquisition of a site near 25th Street and Highway 370 in Bellevue, but county officials backed out of an agreement to purchase that land amid protests from the City of Bellevue.

The county is now in the process of partnering with Nebraska Medicine. A formal agreement has not yet been reached, Hoins said.

A public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget will be held at the Aug. 20 Sarpy County Board meeting, held at 1210 Golden Gate Drive.