DALE COUNTY -- The Dale County Commissioner approved a 0.5 millage tax for people effective in October 2015. The mill tax is expected to generate enough money to fund the jail for maintenance and upkeep.
Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship says the bottom line is this is a necessary investment.
“We don't have the general fund budget to support maintaining the jail so we've got to go back to this jail tax,” said Blankenship.
This tax originated in September 1985 after the jail burned and the county needed money to rebuild, they instated a 2.5 mill tax. This generated the necessary funds, with some left over.
In February 2003, the commission voted to lower it to 0 mills...theoretically eliminating it. But, over the years, the county used the jail fund money for capital items such as heating and cooling systems, appliances, and building storage.
“The last ten years or so that it's been audited, the auditors had no issue with how it's being used.”
As far as regulations go, the Commission controls the funding for how dollars are spent-and this goes for jail renovations. Commissioners said this upkeep is a big priority.
“We have to do it looking at where we are now in that amount of money, and hoping that we'll start collecting it before we run out," Chairman Blankenship said. “We have to maintain it. So, we really don't have a choice but to put this tax back on.“
Based on tax value, the mill tax will cost a family with $100,000 property five dollars per year. For a business with the same property value it will add $10.00 to their cost.
The commission said they believe this will generate around $158,000 per year. Based on five years of spending at the jail, it costs around $148,000 per year to maintain the jail.
If the county would need to rebuild the jail and would not have enough in the fund, they could vote the next February to raise the mill tax. They can vote to increase the mill tax up to 2.5 mills.
As for those in law enforcement, they said they do their job and let the commission do theirs.
“You have certain laws that govern what you do with inmates as well as your jails," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said. "You have to cover all bases to stay compliant with the law.”