Jackson Co. plans next steps after voters approve jail sales tax - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jackson Co. plans next steps after voters approve jail sales taxes

JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Jackson County officialsbreathed a collective sigh of relief a day after voters overwhelmingly approvedtwo sales tax increases for a new jail.

The county can now prepare to move forward with construction,as voters have spared the county from having its jail closed.

"I can't tell you how appreciative I am," said Jackson CountySheriff David Lucas. "I slept like a baby [Tuesday night], first time in manymonths."

Relieved is an understatement for Sheriff Lucas right now,as the eight-year struggle he has faced with the Jackson County DetentionCenter appears to be over.

Voters supported two sales taxes by big margins during aspecial election Tuesday.

"I was really anticipating it being close," Lucas said. "Inever would have expected a 70-30 split like it turned out. I was verysurprised, and I was very pleased."

The favorable results have taken away most of the dread hefelt about the upcoming jail inspection.

"What I'm anticipating is the jail review committee givingus time," the sheriff said. "I don't think they'll shut us down."

The county can then meet with its architect and projectmanager to clear the way for the new larger jail, which will cost approximately$8.8 million to build.

"Step one is done," said Jeff Phillips, the Jackson Countyjudge. "Now, it's into getting everything ready, getting everything set up forconstruction."

Phillips still has to put out bids for construction andsecure the bonds, but he hopes to break ground on the project in about sixmonths.

"We are humbly thankful," Phillips said, "and we are veryencouraged that Jackson County wants to move forward and that they havebasically saved the county."

The two sales taxes will likely start generating revenue forthe county in August. One sales tax, worth 0.375 percent, will remain on thebooks permanently to maintain the new 100-bed facility, while the other taxwill drop off once the jail is built.

"We're going to do everything we can to get the jail paidfor as soon as possible," Phillips said.

He expects the new jail to take about two years toconstruct.

What happens to the current facility is up to the quorumcourt, though it appears the members will decide to demolish it to make roomfor extra parking.

Copyright 2013 KAIT.All rights reserved.

 

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