• Last modified 3045 days ago (Feb. 23, 2011)


Pay sales tax for a new jail or pay for a lawsuit

The choice is ours

It appears that the county commission is ready to take decisive action regarding the jail.

Increasing taxes — property or sales tax— is not a popular decision, one I’m sure the commission struggled to make.

But, folks, what else are we going to do? Things cannot continue as they have and transporting inmates to another jail is costly.

The state gave counties the responsibility of incarcerating those who break the law in the respective counties. It is the responsibility of people in this county to take care of our own problems.

Unfortunately, the number of inmates probably will not decrease from the current average of about 10 at any given time. We do not want to live in a community where law enforcement is discouraged from making arrests because the jail is full or an inmate may have to be transported as far away as Pratt.

Building a jail makes more sense than pouring money into an older building. The county’s current jail is more outdated than the one in Mayberry. At least that one had separation between the inmates and staff.

I have taken tours of the jail and walked along the catwalk, within arm’s length of inmates. It is not a good feeling. If you have not been inside the jail, set up a time to take a tour. You’ll be amazed that this jail has served us for more than 70 years.

The older jail and offices can still be useful to the county, so the structure will not set empty.

If we put this sales tax in perspective, a one-half cent sales tax means we’ll be paying $1 more on $100 worth of groceries or $100 more on a $10,000 car. I can certainly understand the concern of businesses with big-ticket items. We don’t want to cut off our nose in spite of our face. We don’t want to impede growth or the continuation of businesses.

I am not a fan of increased taxes — who is? I’ve written many editorials on the subject. However, I would rather my money —whether it’s sales tax or property tax — go toward a building than toward a lawsuit. At some point, something is going to happen to an inmate or an employee, requiring the county to cough up money to settle a lawsuit or to take care of an employee.

I don’t want us to wait until something horrific happens to make a decision and take decisive action. I would rather pay a little bit now for the next dozen years or so than to see the county pay millions after a lawsuit — and we would still have no resolution.

We voted this down in 2008 and where did that get us?

Let’s look at this sensibly and logically. The problem is not going to go away by ignoring it. It is going to get worse.

— susan berg

Last modified Feb. 23, 2011