City, county officials push to support half-cent sales tax for jail, sheriff’s office

Poinsett County Jail found to have multiple issues

POINSETT COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - The Poinsett County Quorum Court voted unanimously for a special election to approve a half-cent sales tax.

If the half-cent tax passes, the tax will go strictly toward the county jail and sheriff’s office permanently.

This isn’t the first time the county has tried to pass the tax. Since 2004, the county has rejected the 1 percent sales tax. Now, county officials are lowering the percentage in an attempt to get money for operation, repairs and maintenance.

The tax will allow for repairs to the jail and will keep staff members on the payroll in the jail that's operating at capacity.

The building was constructed in 1995 and part of repairing the infrastructure includes a boiler system priced at $111,000. The tax will also update officers’ gear, including getting rid of old vehicles with over 150,000 miles.

Sheriff Kevin Molder told Region 8 News on Tuesday this is something needed in order to ensure the safety of citizens.

“It is very critical to our community," Molder said. “In order for us to effectively police, effectively dispatch, effectively answer 911 calls, effectively house inmates, we need this tax.”

Leaders in the county hope this tax helps alleviate the burden.

Mayor Justin Kimble of Harrisburg has worked inside the jail as a deputy.

"I do know what they need, I’ve seen it with my own eyes and had to work with it myself. So, I do understand it and I know where they’re coming from. I do believe they do need it,” Kimble said.

In March, the Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee listed lack of space, staffing concerns, and structure matters in their review. However, they did praise the sheriff’s department saying, “The Review Committee commends the Sheriff’s Office, as the jail staff is doing a great job despite the confines of the current building."

Those opposed have said that if the tax passed, the tax for some cities will be over 10 percent when combined with state and local taxes.

Those cities include Harrisburg, Lepanto, Marked Tree and Trumann.

If approved, the sales tax rate will increase from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent countywide in Jan. 2020.

Weiner Mayor Michael Frasier said it also comes down to paying little now or a lot later.

"The full to the half was part of it, the biggest part of it was the education of the populace about what its actually going to do and what’s it good for and what it’s going to cost us if we don’t pass this tax,” Frasier said.

Mayor Charles Glover of Tyronza says although no one likes taxes, it is something that needs to pass.

"The county supports our towns in the county, and we all just need to band together and support our county and this is a big part of it,” Glover said.

An election will take place Tuesday, Aug. 13. Early voting begins Tuesday, Aug. 6.

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