Lawrence County Court approves sales tax increase for new jail

Lawrence County Court approves sales tax increase for new jail

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Lawrence County Quorum Court approved a half cent sales tax increase to be placed on the upcoming November ballot.

The tax increase is to help build a new jail for the county.

The Criminal Detention Facility Review Committee told Lawrence County the court had until October to come up with a plan for the jail to either be renovated, expanded or completely rebuilt.

The committee said if a plan was not decided on by October, they would shut the facility down.

County Judge Dale Freeman told Region 8 News a closure of the jail would be detrimental to the county.

The county has found a new location in Walnut Ridge for the jail, but renovations must be made to fit the 100 beds needed.

The half cent sales tax will be used to build and maintain the new jail.

"Three-eights of it will be to build the jail and one-eighth of it will be the upkeep of it after it is built," Judge Freeman said.

The three-eighths to build the jail will go off the sales tax in about 22 years, according to Freeman, but the one-eighth will stay on for the maintenance.

Now that the court has passed the tax increase for the ballot, they must work on the ordinances and resolutions for the election.

A meeting regarding the ordinances will be held on Wednesday.

People in Lawrence County will be able to vote on the tax increase on Nov. 15.

Judge Freeman told Region 8 News that the Governor has mentioned building a regional jail in the county, but no progress has been made yet.

If a regional jail was built, it would contain 200 beds, compared to the 100 beds they are planning for right now.

"They would pay us so much a day for their inmates being up here and they set the bond up where that hundred would pay for the jail," said Freeman.

If the governor's proposal for a regional jail does go through, the new sales tax increase would be taken away since the court only passed it to pay for the jail.

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