Sales tax vote for jail expansion approved in Sharp County

Sales tax vote unofficially approved for jail expansion

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -Voters in Sharp County on Tuesday gave their approval to a proposal on a jail sales tax and bond election that will allow the county to build a 22,500-square-foot jail and law enforcement building.

The voting was on two separate measures related to the jail.

First, voters approved the 0.25% County-Wide Sales and Use Tax, which will permanently increase the Sharp County sales tax rate by 0.25% to pay for the costs and repayment of bonds.

Second, voters approved the bonds and a 0.50% county-wide sales and use tax. The plan would temporarily increases the Sharp County sales tax rate by 0.50 percent and issues up to $10,995,000 in bonds to pay for costs associated with the jail expansion, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service said earlier this year.

County officials estimate the building and site development would cost $10,995,000.

The current jail was constructed in 1980, is about 5,520 square-feet and the state has said the inmate population exceeded the jail’s design, format and space.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said not having enough space for inmates creates a safety issue.

“This will give us the much-needed jail-space so we don’t have to put people back on the street,” Counts said. “Also, this will give some jobs to our community.”

Officials said the current jail only has 38 beds but the new building would have 100 beds for prisoners and offices for sheriff’s department employees.

The facility will be built on county-owned land, across the road from the current jail on Arnhart Street in Ash Flat.

So what’s next?

Sharp Co. Judge Gene Moore said that he received an email from the architect on Nov. 7 and the state of Arkansas requires a 30-day waiting period before work on a project can begin.

As long as no issues arise, the next step is to schedule a project kick off meeting.

Officials will review the overall project, talk about foundation, and the building process.

The meeting is expected sometime in December.

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