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Geneva County will revisit sales tax increase to pay for a new jail

For the second time in two years Geneva County commissioners will ask voters to consider a one percent sales tax increase.
 The Geneva County jail is in need of major repairs. In addition to the wear and tear the jail is limited on space.  County leaders say it's time to build a new one. To fund the construction of the jail, commissioners are planning to ask the voters to consider once again a one percent sales tax increase. This week the commission passed a resolution for a sales tax referendum to a build a $6 million jail. County Commission Chairman Fred Hamic said the wording on the ballot discouraged many people from voting yes for the sales tax increase the first time around.

On the ballot last November it simply asked, “Do you authorize the county commission of Geneva to levy an additional one percent sales tax use?" It didn't explain where the money would go and what it would have been used for. At that time the money would have funded the jail, road projects, and a school resource officer. Hamic said this time around they've taken the school resource officer out of the equation and he said they will make sure the wording on the ballot  is crystal clear. "I think if the wording would have been different, the referendum would have passed.”

Hamic said he’s afraid that if a new jail isn't built, the county could be mandated to build one by a federal judge, which could double the cost anticipated. “If a federal judge gets involved that jail is going to cost you two to 2.5 times more to build. If you do it yourself and meet minimum standards you can build a Holiday Inn. When a federal judge gets involved you will build a Taj Mahal,” explained Hamic.
A one percent sales tax increase would bring the sales tax to nine percent.  Hamic said it could generate up to $1.5. Million a year.

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