New Jail Tax Approved

August 6, 2003  - Posted at 7:04 a.m.  CDT

PINE BLUFF, Ark.  --The second time was a charm in Jefferson County, where voters narrowly approved a half-cent sales tax to build a new jail yesterday.

Complete but unofficial results show the tax increase passed by 122 votes with three thousand,-185 for and three thousand,-63 against.

Voters also approved a bond issue to finance construction. Half of the tax increase will be temporary, ceasing after more than 10 (m) million dollars in bonds are paid off. The other half will fund jail maintenance and daily operation.

A similar proposal failed by 108 votes in May. Sheriff Boe Fontaine says people had a clearer vision of what is going on in the community this time around. County officials say the current 106-inmate jail is inadequate and the high cost of renting cells elsewhere is threatening county services.

The proposed new jail will hold 400 prisoners.

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