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Concerns raised about jail tax

Staff writer

Commissioners Dan Holub and Randy Dallke have concerns about financing for a new law enforcement center.

Holub, Dallke and commissioner Bob Hein met with Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee last week to discuss the committee’s plans.

Dallke says he is concerned that businesses owned out of county will benefit from emergency services without contributing.

The committee is exploring assessing a flat fee on residences but not businesses, up to $120 per year, which would end after 10 years.

Committee members said at a meeting this Tuesday that every household benefits from police and 911 services.

The committee also is considering whether a proposal should be on a county-wide ballot. Meetings will be held in every town in the county to discuss the proposal, and committee members plan to take a straw poll at those meetings.

Committee members said they do not want to wait until the November 2010 general election.

If a flat fee were passed without a referendum, opponents would have 60 days to collect signatures for a petition, Holub said. If the petition garnered a certain percentage of registered voters in the county, the issue would go to ballot. Holub was unsure of the needed percent.

“I think they’re on the right track,” Hein said.

Decisions about financing will have to wait until costs of a jail and alternatives are known.

Costs of sending inmates to out-of-county jails are expected to be revealed at the committee’s July 7 meeting.

Committee members hope to learn from Anderson County’s recent experience building a jail. The county built a larger jail than the 26- or 40-bed facility the committee is considering for about $5.5 million, with sheriff and 911 offices.

The committee also:

  • Determined Marion County needs five corrections officers, whether a new jail is constructed. The jail now is understaffed with one corrections officer, Sheriff Rob Craft said. Communications employees assist with the jail but are not qualified corrections officers.
  • Discussed location with commissioners. Consensus was that keeping a facility close to the courthouse would be beneficial, but any property acquisition would be done by the commission.
  • Committee chairman Danny Flynn said no single newspaper was intended to be the recipient of all comments and questions for the committee. A news brief in last week’s edition of the Hillsboro Free Press indicated that newspaper was the newspaper for patrons to send information, but it is one of four newspapers in the county to accept comments.

Last modified June 18, 2009

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