Greene County public hearings— Tax hike for new jail?
- Published: November 2, 2019
Should a 0.25% increase to county sales tax be put on the ballot to fund the construction of a new jail for Greene County? County residents will have the chance to weigh in on the issue at two upcoming public hearings:
- Thursday, Nov. 7, at 1:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m.
Both hearings are held at the Greene County Board of Commissioners’ meeting chambers at 35 Greene St., Xenia.
Public input will help Greene County Commissioners decide whether to go ahead with putting a sales tax measure on the March 17, 2020, primary ballot to pay for a new jail. The facility is estimated to cost $70 million, including construction costs, bond interest and other factors.
The proposed new jail would replace and consolidate two existing jail facilities, Greene County Jail in downtown Xenia, and the Adult Detention Center on Greene Way Boulevard. The new jail would expand the existing capacity of the county jail from a total of 382 beds to 500 beds, a 30% increase. County officials have said such an increase is needed to alleviate overcrowding and provide more space for inmate programming and services.
A study by outside consultants hired by the county concluded that a new jail was needed, but also sounded a note of caution regarding jail expansion. Greene County currently has a relatively low incarceration rate, as compared to surrounding counties. Expanding jail capacity often leads to higher incarceration, the consultants’ study noted.
The new jail would also update jail facilities; the existing downtown jail is 50 years old, with crumbling and antiquated infrastructure, according to jail officials.
Members of the public who are unable to attend either of the hearing dates may submit written comments via email to clerk Lisa Mock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioners are required by law to hold the hearings before passing resolutions that would put the measure on the ballot. Those resolutions must be passed in advance of Dec. 18, 2019, the deadline for putting issues on the next ballot.
Separate from the hearings, Greene County Commissioners are holding a public work session on the 2020 county budget Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 9 a.m., in commissioners’ chambers at 35 Greene St., Xenia. Last year’s budget was around $58 million, which includes appropriations for the sheriff’s department and the jail. About half of the county budget comes from county sales tax, and another 15% derives from county property taxes.
To learn more about the proposed new jail, read the five articles in the News’ series on the subject, Inside/Out, published between May and September of this year. Articles may be accessed here.
For more specifics on the proposed sales tax increase, read the article on the topic in the Oct. 31 print issue of the News.