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County Assessor office workers

Workers in the Woodbury County Assessor's Office are shown in this 2014 file photo. The Sioux City Council on Monday unanimously decided to continue keeping the city's assessor office distinct from the county's.

SIOUX CITY | A new fiscal year with money for budgeted spending arrives Tuesday, but a security upgrade planned for the Woodbury County Courthouse won't be in place until sometime in August.

The county is still working to hire and train security workers to staff a metal detector at a building entrance. That will take at least a month, Human Resources Director Ed Gilliland said.

"Our optimal date is Aug. 1. Our fallback date is Sept. 1," Gilliland said.

More than 40 people, many of them retired law enforcement workers, have applied for the jobs. There will be one full-time supervisor and two other positions filled by about seven part-timers. Gilliland said experienced security trainers from an outside firm will be brought in to provide instruction. Firms are being researched for that expertise.

The county will spend $250,000 to implement the courthouse security plan in the year ahead. The 1918 building, at 620 Douglas St., has never had a comprehensive security system.

Access will be restricted to one entrance that will have a metal detector and x-ray machine staffed by three security workers. The plan also calls for adding cameras, but the County Board hasn't sought bids for those.

The fact that the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is also slowing implementation. Gilliland said he has to be sure that closing off the west entrance is done in ways to maintain the landmark designation. Signs that come with the new security plan must not disturb the building's historic features.

Sheriff Dave Drew's office expected to provide staffing after the County Board approved the new security plan in January at the request of County Attorney P.J. Jennings and other courthouse officials. But the board decided in May to have Human Resources hire from outside the Sheriff's Office.

The plan has been controversial, and the labor union that represents the sheriff's deputies said it violates their contract. County supervisors say it will save taxpayers $70,000 a year in personnel costs.

"We are going to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the citizens of Woodbury County and the employees in the building," Gilliland said.


County and education reporter

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