County moves forward with new jail construction project

The Warren County Board of Commissioners have decided by majority vote to move forward with the construction of a new $50 million county jail to solve the jails overcrowding problems.

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“There is no question about the urgent need for a new jail to adequately protect our community,” Commissioner David Young said in a statement. “The issue was always how to responsibly build an appropriate facility without unnecessary cost to the taxpayer or jeopardizing the fiscal health of the county with such a large-scale construction project.”

On Tuesday, the commissioners moved forward with plans to pay for the new jail with a combination of a temporary sales tax increase from 6.75 percent to 7 percent for up to five years and money from the county’s general operating funds for a downpayment.

The tax takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

RELATED: Sales tax to pay for new Warren County Jail

The tax is expected to raise $10 million a year to offset the cost of financing the project.

The board also approved a 1.5-mill property tax reduction in the levy collected for the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities that will reduce property taxes for residents by $92 on a $200,000 home and save taxpayers over $9.5 million.

“This process has certainly allowed me to gain even more appreciation for their thoughtful, conservative approach that balances the safety of our county residents and the professional jail staff with the need to protect taxpayer dollars,” Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims said in a release. “I believe they struck the right balance.”

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Plans are to begin construction in 2018 and move into the new facility, to be built behind the current facilities, in 2020.

The jail capacity would be increased from 280 to 468 inmates.

Increasing the sales tax in the county is said to save tax payers an estimated $25.6 million had they chosen a finance plan that was spread over a longer period of time.

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