Members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority have called a special meeting to be held Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. in the county commissioners’ meeting room at the Delaware County Courthouse.
The Authority intends to approve the proposal of a .5 percent sales tax increase to fund a ten-year note for the purpose of building a 100-bed jail facility at the current jail site.
Citizens will be asked to vote on the proposal during an August 24 election.
The proposed tax increase would be permanently reduced to a permanent .25 percent tax no later than December 31, 2018, which would be used for maintenance and operation of the facility.
Last Wednesday the members voted, after much discussion, to choose the measure from several options presented by financial advisor Rick Smith.
At that meeting, Smith presented figures detailing how much sales tax would be collected with a .3% sales tax increase. To this figure, he added operation and maintenance funds available to operate the jail and subtracted the operation and maintenance expenses for the three options of a 60, 82 or 100-bed facility.
All three options carried an annual shortfall of funds to operate the facility and repay the loan.
“You wouldn’t start a business out in the hole. I refuse to support anything that starts us out in the hole,” said District #2 Commissioner Billy Cornell.
Attendees felt that they needed to educate the voters about the county’s need for a larger jail facility to avoid legal ramifications from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which has brought suit against Delaware County for overcrowding in the present 62-bed jail facility.
The pending lawsuit is in litigation and should the county not find a solution, the fine might be from $1 to $10,000 per day per prisoner. This fine, if assessed, would appear on landowners’ ad valorem tax rolls and would go to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“The public needs to know that we’ve worked very hard on these things. We’ve downsized and cut down costs, just like they’ve asked. We need the support of the public now,” Cornell concluded.