COLCORD – Members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority met with a small crowd in Colcord Tuesday night to inform Delaware County residents about building a new detention center in Jay.
The proposed facility twill be located in the Jay Industrial Park, and will be a 228-bed facility at a cost of $10.6M.
Delaware District #2 County Commissioner Billy Cornell explained to the crowd why the location was chosen, described the proposed facility, and the proposed funding.
An election will be held Aug. 26 so that voters can pass or veto a .5% sales tax. The proposed tax would drop to .35% after the note is retired in no longer than 20 years.
Commissioner Cornell who told the group that the county has a court date set for Sept. 22 in Oklahoma City concerning the pending lawsuit brought against the county by the Oklahoma State Board of Health.
Trust member Becki Farley told the crowd about the possibility of being fined up to $10,000 for the overcrowding in the existing jail.
She said the possible fines would be paid with property taxes.
“And we’ll have no say over this,” said Farley.
Cornell told the crowd it was the authority’s hope that the lawsuit would be stalled or dropped once the sales tax increased was passed, and the state understands the county is trying to rectify the problem.
According to District Attorney Eddie Wyant, the county has no defense against the overcrowding issue and has stipulated with the state that it is guilty of housing too many prisoners, but will argue over the amount that the county could be fined per day.
An increase in property taxes was also discussed as an alternative to the sales tax increase.
Farley told the group that even though a property tax was passed to build the jail, country residents would still have to pass a sales tax for the operation and maintenance of the facility.
Commissioner Cornell brought up the fact that approximately 43,000 acres in Delaware County are not taxable and in his opinion, a sales tax increase is the only fair way to pay for the facility.
Farley added that a family of four, spending $2,000 a month on taxable items, would pay $10 more per month if the sales tax increase was passed.
Delaware County Sheriff Jay Blackfox said the prisoner count for the day was 81 in their 63-bed facility. He said the county was going to save an approximate $1M by leaving the sheriff’s department where it is and that the dispatchers would remain in their location as well.
Cornell wrapped the meeting up by saying the committee was not trying to tell people how to vote, but encouraged them to get out and vote on Aug. 26.
The Grove City Council and the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce have both come out in opposition to the tax. They say it would hurt business in Grove, which already has the second highest sales tax of a town its size in Oklahoma.
Grove Council Member Larry Parham, who has been very vocal in his opposition, said that there are other ways to fund the jail and those ways ought to be researched.