JAY – The Delaware County Public Facilities Authority discussed several strategies in the sales tax passage set for Aug. 26 for the funding of the new Delaware County Detention Center during their meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Board member Mike Blecha started the meeting by thanking district #1 County Commissioner Ken Crowder for presenting the proposal to the Grove City Council Tuesday night. He said the council didn’t give Crowder any “slack” and informed the rest of the board about the resolution the Grove council passed during their meeting, urging the citizens of Grove to vote “no” for the Delaware County proposed sales tax increase.
Blecha said they did not disagree that a new jail needed to be built, but they wanted the authority and the commissioners to investigate other ways to pay for it. Blecha added that their reaction was not unexpected, but he didn’t anticipate the resolution during the meeting.
Commissioner for district #2 Billy Cornell said that six people had contacted him since their last meeting that were located in the city limits of Grove and they were in favor of the sales tax. He said in his opinion, he felt like the Grove City Council was trying to speak for everyone else and that everyone he had talked to outside of the council members were in favor of the sale tax increase.
Blecha agreed, but said the Grove Chamber of Commerce had also came out against the sale tax increase.
Crowder said that Larry Parham had talked about Sequoyah County being fined for overcrowding, but Crowder said he failed to mention that the fines stayed in effect until a sales tax was passed so they could build a new jail.
District Attorney Eddie Wyant told the board that he had been in contact with the State Department of Health and he said in his opinion, they didn’t want to assess a fine and he felt comfortable in our relation with the department. He said they are still trying to work with us, but that we don’t want to “back them into a corner”.
Blecha said that Parham said he felt that the lawsuit was being posed as a threat to try and get the sales tax passed and as long as we were working with the state we would not be fined.
Wyant answered by saying, “the threat is being passed on – from the State to us – that’s how it’s being passed on.”
Becki Farley rallied by telling the members how the informational meeting went at Kansas. Although the crowd was small she said she felt that everyone went away with a better understanding of what was happening and was better informed to make an educated decision on election day. “We didn’t tell them how to vote, we just gave them all the information,” she said.
Crowder went back to the response from the Grove City Council members by saying that they claim that 60-65% of the total tax base is provided by the city of Grove for the county. He said he told them that 80-90% of that sales tax base comes from people outside of the city of Grove. He added that the city of Jay is having no problems with the proposal. “No one is complaining about the sales tax except the city of Grove,” he added.
Farley reminded everyone that even if they decided to use property taxes to build the jail, a sales tax increase would still be needed to operate and maintain the jail.
Crowder said, “The sales tax is still the fair way to build this thing.”
Farley told the group that they should focus on those people who were undecided. “You can’t change some people’s minds, it’s a wasted effort. You have to respect their opinion and move on.”
Other informal meetings were discussed where the authority could present the information to voters including the senior citizens and fire department in Bernice, at the Grand Traveler’s meeting in Grove and Sheriff Jay Blackfox set up a meeting in Colcord for Aug. 19 at the Dan Draper Community Center at 7 p.m.
The next meeting of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority will be held on Wed., Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. in the commissioners’ office of the Delaware County Courthouse.