Central Georgia County Looks At Continuing SPLOST Tax
Taxpayers in a Middle Georgia county will head to the polls next month to vote on continuing a sales tax.
Some agencies in Washington County said they need the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax money to continue several projects. If tax payers don't vote yes, some people in the county will end up paying another way.
However, when Washington County Sheriff, Thomas Smith looks at the women's dormitory at the jail, one idea comes to mind.
"Basically, we have run out of room," Smith said.
The jail was built 15 years ago and only supports 52 inmates daily but last year's average was roughly 78. When space runs out, the sheriff's alternate plan hits the wallets of Washington County tax payers.
"We are presently housing prisoners outside of the county at 45 dollars a day which is costing tax payers a lot of money."
Sheriff Smith's estimate is $1.9 million a year. Money the sheriff said could stay locally if Washington County tax payers vote to continue the SPLOST tax next month. The tax would be a continuation on the current SPLOST tax that's set to expire in 2014. If passed, $16 million would be divided among city and county government agencies. This includes the jail which Smith said would help him build a bigger law enforcement agency.
"It will be a larger facility with the same number of officers with the addition of maybe two officers to run a 200 bed facility."
Smith said it’s important to build a new facility and not put additions on to the current site because it would cost the tax payers even more money.
"You will have to double your staff if you add on,” he said. “If you add on 150 beds, you'll have to have a staff to operate that 150 bed facility plus the staff to operate the 52 bed facility."
If tax payers decide against the SPLOST, Smith said the county will find another funding mechanism.
"If the SPLOST does not pass then the property taxes will go up on the tax payers," he said.
Washington County voters will head to the polls on March 19 to decide the future of the SPLOST. If it passes, Smith says there are a few potential locations to build the new jail.