The Record-Herald is encouraging county voters to vote “Yes” for the new jail levy at Tuesday’s election.
The current Fayette County Jail was built over 100 years ago. It was created to house 24 inmates—today, our average is over 60 inmates at a time. According to Fayette County Commissioner Tony Anderson, our current jail passed 31 state standards—and failed 61.
The levy will tax property owners at approximately $66.50 per $100,000 of property value, according to Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean. That’s approximately $5.54 per month for those with a property value of $100,000 or less—less than a Netflix subscription and almost the same cost as one combo meal at McDonald’s.
What will that $5.54 a month do?
It will build a new adult detention facility that features updated equipment and building construction that will meet legal standards set by the state. Not only will the construction be covered in that $5.54 a month, but so will staffing.
That staff consists of our fellow community members — they are neighbors, friends, co-workers and family. As a community, we will be ensuring a safer environment for them.
Part of the proposed jail is a rehab facility and the opportunity for inmates to learn life skills—life skills that many of us take for granted.
There has been the opinion cropping up on social media that inmates should not have access to this education because those who do not follow the law should be denied these opportunities. This viewpoint is skewed. Life skills are not something necessarily taught in school or even in college. They are skills we learn at home—with a decent role model, with a secure environment, with people we trust. They are skills we learn from reading, partaking in social activities, traveling to new places.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as knowing how to communicate or cope, which is a lot more complicated than people realize, especially when proper communication and coping was not a regular part of childhood or even in adult life.
The new facility will give these individuals the opportunity to learn those skills taken for granted. It will provide the opportunity for those individuals to become useful and involved members within our county once they fulfill their sentences, instead of being a nuisance.
If things continue as they are—how will anything change? How will the drug problems in our county improve? How will the needles stop appearing on the ground for our kids and pets to find? How will we continue to draw successful businesses and increase population in an area suffering from crimes and dependency?
We recognize that no one wants to pay more taxes.
Washington Court House City Council member Dale Lynch said at a public meeting that during his time as a council member, a little over 13 years, “I’ve learned several things about politics and about people’s feelings about government.”
He explained, “I think I would say 100 percent of people don’t want to pay more taxes.” Then he pointed out that many of these same people want the county and city to supply things “that will keep them safe, that will entertain them, that will educate them and all those kind of things.”
According to him, this is a “dilemma” in government that is difficult to solve. Lynch explained “We have something a little different than our federal government. We cannot operate at a deficit. We have to keep our budget balanced.”
It was previously reported that Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said, “Of course it’s a jail—we realize it’s a jail—but we still need to meet the required standards that are set up by law.” Remember—we failed 61 standards and only passed 31. The idea of being grandfathered-in is an false concept. It won’t stop the state from possibly shutting our jail down and it won’t help the community to move forward.
In a previous article, it was explained that “if the jail was to be shut down, at an average of 60 inmates and $65 per day per inmate, it would cost the county $3,900 per day. In one year it would cost $1,423,500. Those numbers don’t include the fuel cost, transport vehicle cost or labor cost for the deputies having to transport the inmates. These transports would also take deputies away from Fayette County, sometimes several hours away to another county’s facility, according to the commissioners.”
It would cost our community more to let our jail close by inaction than it would cost us to be proactive.
The Record-Herald strongly believes this levy is the best, most sensible path forward.