JAY – A defeated sales tax proposal that would have benefited the Delaware County jail has county and state officials regrouping and trying to come up with a plan to hold off the onset of possible hefty fines, county officials said Wednesday.
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. Violation of a compliance order is up to $10,000 a day in fines.
One solution was to house 20 Delaware County inmates at the Ottawa County jail for up to three years. Passage of the one-tenth of one percent sales tax was expected to generate around $300,000 a year which would help offset the costs associated with housing the prisoners in Miami.
In Tuesday’s election Delaware County voters rejected by a vote of 607 to 771 the sales tax increase.
“We are just going to have to regroup and see what we can do,” said Jay Blackfox, Delaware County sheriff.
County Commissioner chairman Bill Cornell, Don Garrison, Director of State Jail Inspectors and Blackfox said after the election the group would have to meet to decide on the next step.
“I will have to talk to the legal department to see what we are supposed to do,” Garrison said.
If the county had passed the sales tax the compliance order would have been dismissed because the overcrowding issue would have been addressed, Cornell said.
“I really don’t know what we are going to do,” Cornell said.
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 its infancy, the current jail has been plagued with overcrowding problems from the beginning.
Delaware County voters rejected a half-cent sales tax in August that would have built an $11 million, 228-bed facility. The proposal was soundly defeated in the northern part of the county which would have raised Grove’s taxes to 9.3 percent if it had passed.
Overall county voters defeated the measure 2,214 to 1,648 votes or 57.3 percent opposing the tax with 42.6 percent in favor of tax increase.