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Utility tax eyed as way to fund jail

Public hearings will be conducted

Funding the jail situation was on the table for Lawrence County Commissioners at their Thursday regular meeting.

For some time, overcrowding at the jail has brought the state in cutting the daily census down to 52 inmates. That has increased the costs for housing prisoners out of county to where that appropriation was at last week down to approximately $10,000.

Now, Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs has proposed having public utility tax to fund the immediate situation and help fund construction of a new jail.

“A levy only targets people who have property. A public utility tax would be fairer,” Boggs said. “Today it was about laying all the options on the table. It is time to solve it. It is time to stop kicking it down the road. The public wants it solved.”

Boggs said there have to be two public hearings, which will be advertised. With the hearings the commission can determine public sentiment, he said.

“It is time to do something, to make some kind of commitment,” Boggs said.

Commissioner Bill Pratt said he is open to all options, but wants the auditor to determine how much funds a levy would bring in.

He said he has concerns about a utilty tax that could possibly affect landlords and the manufacturing industry.

Also at its meeting the commission honored Aaron Cahal whose efforts recently saved a toddler from drowning.

In other action the commission:

• Reappointed Arthur Myers to a five-year term to the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority;

• Approved a Juvenile Court Youth subsidy grant.