Warren County weighs tax hike to pay for $50 million jail

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Warren County weighs tax hike to pay for $50 million jail

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Warren County commissioners discuss tax hike as way to pay for new jail and children’s services.

Warren County is considering raising property or sales tax to pay for a $50 million jail.

On Tuesday, the commissioners debated the merits of the two taxes after learning financing the new jail would cost another $36 million.

The board plans to meet on June 30 to decide how to pay for the new jail.

A study projected the cost at $56 million, not including costs to borrow money for the project.

Earlier this year, Commissioner Shannon Jones, in her first meeting, joined Commissioner Dave Young in agreeing it was time to move forward, having employed a variety of alternatives to ease jail crowding.

“I don’t want to kick this down the road,” Young said during Tuesday’s meeting.

However Commissioner Tom Grossmann questioned proposals to raise the sales tax from 6.75 to 7 percent, the current rate in Montgomery and Hamilton counties.

“I would prefer not to raise taxes,” Grossmann said, adding he questioned using a sales tax - 60 percent of which is paid by out-of-county residents.

There was also a debate over the need to give voters the option for a referendum or popular vote.

Last year, the commissioners directed the consultant, K2M Design, to move ahead with a needs assessment after unveiling the findings of a study estimating the costs of replacing the existing facility at more than $50 million.

During the meeting, the board also discussed a property tax levy to offset the rising costs for children’s services, now paid for from the county’s general fund.

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