EDITORIAL: A setback, but a rebound is possible

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

It was revealed this week that the state of Ohio has reallocated the $16.8 million it had slotted to Lawrence County to build a new jail.

This is particularly disappointing news, as the funds were celebrated at the time of their announcement and seen as key to resolving the longstanding overcrowding problems at the existing county facility.

The move by the state came after the failure of a proposed sales tax on the 2022 primary ballot that would have filled out the funding for construction and operation of a new jail.

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With no alternative plan in place or movement made toward building a jail, the state chose to give the much in-demand money to other counties.

While this is a major setback toward a resolution, the county can still apply again for funding.

If such funds were to be made available, it would be prudent to have a plan, even multiple in place, to move forward.

As we noted at the time, the failure of the sales tax with voters stemmed, in part, due to a number of misconceptions on the issue. For instance, gas and food were exempt from the tax, something many were not fully aware of.

If the county again proposes a tax, a better education campaign would be necessary for it to succeed.

If such a tax would again fail, or commissioners choose not to put one on the ballot, then an alternate source of funding needs to be explored. It would be best to have many paths available, lest the county risk losing another funding award.

While the news is a disappointment, it is not hopeless. With proper planning and engagement with the public, there is a chance to come up with a solution that will work.