Paying For a Prison

9 years 4 months 3 days ago August 06, 2007 Aug 6, 2007 Monday, August 06 2007 Monday, August 06, 2007 5:19:36 PM CDT in News

Cole County is spending money on prisoners faster than it's making money because there's no room at the prison.

"This morning we had 44 in our jail, we had 10 in Callaway County, we had six in Pettis County, one in Camden County, and three in mental institutions. That's a substantial number of people," said Cole County Sheriff Greg White.

A half-cent sales tax would provide the money to build a new jail and expand the sheriff's department just down the street from the courthouse.

If the sales tax passes, Jefferson City plans to donate this land to build the new Cole County Jail, a similar sales tax failed in 2005.

The big difference is, this time, the plan will cost $13 million less than the previous one.

A citizen committee estimates the half-cent sales tax would cost the average Cole County family less than $84  per year and it would provide enough money to build the $24 million jail.

Some worry it's Cole County's last chance to replenish the coffers. 

"Couldn't a federal judge order it done? Absolutely. They can shut us down and say farm them out till you build a new jail. This is what I want you to build, now do it and this is how you'll staff it. And then the county has to pay for it either way," said White.

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