JAY – The cost to build a proposed $11.3 million jail may be paid by raising Delaware County taxes over half a percent.

The Delaware County Public Facilities Authority, the trust designed to oversee the building of the new jail, met with Rick Smith of the Edmond-based business Municipal Finance Services on Tuesday to discuss funding options.

 “A six-tenths of a percent sales tax is under consideration,” Smith said.

The proposed countywide sales tax increase would last for 20 years.

A tax increase would raise Grove sales tax rates up to 9.4 percent and Jay to 9.0 percent.

After meeting with the commissioners to discuss some funding options, Smith said more information was needed on operational costs. The sheriff’s office was asked to prepare a budget, including operating expenses and bring it to the next meeting, which is set for March 5, he said.

 “The sales tax has to cover operating the jail as well as building the jail,” Smith said.

If a tax-increase proposal is approved, the trust will place the proposal on the May 13 ballot.

CURRENT JAIL

Voters approved a three-year, half-cent sales tax in 1997 to build the current courthouse, which was completed in 2000. They also approved a one-year extension in 1998 to build a district-court complex, renovate the courthouse, and building a new $3.8 million jail.

The sales tax has since been retired.

Despite being only eight years old, the current jail has been plagued with overcrowding problems from the beginning.

In 2006, the state Department of Health issued a compliance order saying the county commissioners and the sheriff violated city and county jail standards, including inmate population limits.

The jail has a capacity of 61 inmates, but jail records show as high as 81 inmates have been held in the jail. The proposed jail is designed to house 228 inmates, almost quadrupling the current jail’s capacity.

PROPOSED JAIL

The proposed site for the jail is about three-quarters of a mile from the Jay elementary school.

Jay Superintendent David Schachle thoroughly endorses the proposed site.

 “With a new jail comes the opportunity to run a sewer line in the industrial park,” Schachle said. “It’s an excellent opportunity for the community to grow, which means more money for the school and community.”

Schachle said the jail trust authority is expected to meet with the school board to answer their questions.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved,” he said.