Jail options topic of meeting

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tax levy a consideration

The issue surrounding the Lawrence County Jail is becoming bigger and bigger by the day. On Tuesday, the commissioners and several county leaders including sheriff Jeff Lawless, prosecutor Brigham Anderson, auditor Jason Stephens and chief deputy auditor Chris Kline discussed the options currently on the table.

“This is a crisis and there needs to be a short-term solution,” Anderson said. “In the short term, I believe we need to utilize the ORV facility. I would like to see a jail built eventually, but that can’t happen today and we’ve got to come up with a solution today. It’s an expensive proposition, but unfortunately we have a drug crisis that plagues our community, and it’s a problem.”

Anderson said with summer just about here, the numbers are going to go up and he doesn’t anticipate that being any lower.

Email newsletter signup

“I believe the sheriff needs a dedicated funding source, and I know this isn’t a popular thing to do, but I would support a tax levy on the ballot in the fall,” Anderson said.

Stephens said that adding a tax levy on the November ballot is a very dangerous thing, and that in order to go ahead with the idea, to make sure the numbers are all correct and the money would cover the cost.

As it stands now, only 52 inmates are in the Fifth Street jail with many being shipped out to other counties, including Morrow, Ross, Butler and Scioto. Due to outstanding invoices from October and November of last year, Lawless’ fund to pay inmates housed out of the county is down to 3 percent of the original $375,000 appropriation.

He previously asked the commissioners to revisit the idea to move to the Franklin Furnace ORV facility, which commission president Les Boggs said he would be in favor of a short-term move.

Boggs added that if a tax levy wouldn’t work to get on the ballot, or if it did not pass, he wasn’t against looking into cutting certain areas or departments in order to supplement with the jail. However, Lawless said cutting county services would not be a good idea.

The commissioners will meet at their regular time on Thursday.