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New jail may be paid with increased sales tax

Staff writer

Marion County Commission will vote Tuesday whether to hold a referendum on a one-half cent sales tax to pay for a new jail, sheriff’s department, and dispatch on the April 5 ballot.

The commission met Thursday in a special session to discuss options.

A 0.5 percent sales tax would require no property tax to build the jail and allow the county to pay the bonds in fewer than 20 years.

State statute wouldn’t allow the county to set the sales tax rates at increments less than 0.25 percent for the project.

Sales tax financing requires a public election. Property tax financing would require the creation of a public building commission, which would require a 60-day petition period to force an election. The petition period would make a combination of sales and property tax complicated to put on the April 5 ballot.

If the county can’t get the question on the April 5 ballot, the next countywide general election is November 2012. Officials said waiting that long, the county might risk the jail being shut down by the state fire marshal. Alternatively, the county could call a special election, but that would involve extra costs, and special elections generally attract more opponents than supporters, commissioners said in an earlier meeting.

For a complete story and the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, see the Feb. 23 edition of this newspaper.

Last modified Feb. 18, 2011

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