Janet Barber

Grove Sun

JAY – Members of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority are now looking at another proposition to fund a new detention center for the county and avoid being fined by the state health department for overcrowding in the present Delaware County Jail.

Bruce Johnson, Grove City Manager, presented another avenue to finance the construction of the facility that included passing an ad valorem tax increase of 2.22 mils to finance the construction of the jail as well as a sales tax increase of .2% to be used for the maintenance and operation of the detention center. The facility size he proposes is a 174-bed center.

The proposition was presented to the Grove City Council in a regular meeting on October 20, but was shot down unanimously by board members.

Grove City Council member Larry Parham said Friday, “If what Bruce is proposing is equitable, then as a city council member, I would go for it.”

Johnson said that if the ad valorem tax passed, it would increase taxes on homes worth $100,000 by less than $2 per month.

“What most of the public don’t realize is that we cannot use ad valorem taxes to operate the jail. We can build it with ad valorem, but we have to have sales tax revenues to maintain it. Voters will have to pass both propositions,” Rick Smith, Municipal Finance Services, stated.

Parham asked board chairman District #2 Commissioner Bill Cornell, if he knocked on the doors in Grove that are in his district, and asked what they wanted, would it be a sales tax or an ad valorem tax increase?

“Those I’ve talked to didn’t understand that you could have both. Once this was explained I see a bigger percentage of the people being made aware of the situation,” Cornell answered.

An ad valorem tax increase must pass by a 60% majority of voters.

On the other hand, a sales tax increase can pass by a simple majority, according to Election Board Secretary Dixie Smith.

At a November 5th meeting of the Authority in Jay, representatives from seven communities throughout the county voted to build a 228-bed facility to be funded by a sales tax increase.

Johnson attended to meeting to present a resolution signed by city council members that Grove would opt for none of the options presented.

Olen Watts, authority member, said in his opinion the majority had spoken when they all voted on the 228-bed facility, funded by sales tax.

“I think if we present this better the next time it will pass. We can put up more signs and get the people out to vote,” Watts said.

It was suggested by Smith that a marketing firm be hired to help a sales tax passage.

Parham said, “Do you think we wouldn’t solicit a company to vote no? We would.”

At 8.8 percent Grove currently has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.

According to Parham, residents would pay less on an ad valorem increase than they would on a sales tax increase.

The voter turnout from the last election was discussed.

That election was the second time the proposed sales tax was voted down.

“The city of Grove didn’t defeat these elections, the south end didn’t do their civic duty by voting,” said Cornell.

Several members voiced their opinions that no matter what, there are going to be voters who will absolutely vote no on any kind of tax increase.

District #3 County Commissioner Dave Kendrick reminded the crowd that southern Delaware County is in need of an ambulance services as well as a larger jail facility.

“There are some people down south that wouldn’t vote for any tax. If they won’t vote to have an ambulance pick them up, they’re not going to vote for a new jail,” Kendrick said.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the board voted to “digest the new proposal” and meet again on December 16 at 1 p.m. in the Commissioners Office of the Delaware County Courthouse.