Commission seeks sales tax raise to fund jail project

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pike County Commission wants to levy a 1.5 percent sales tax to fund the construction of a new jail and increase court fees to pay for its ongoing operations.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Monday asking Sen. Jimmy Holley and Rep. Alan Boothe to draft a bill to levy the tax county-wide, except for the City of Troy, which would only receive a 0.5 percent sales tax increase.

Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said commissioners had spoken with Holley and Boothe, who he said agreed that a new jail must be constructed.

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“We couldn’t get anywhere without our legislative personnel,” Sullivan said. “We met to go over the current status of the jail and they were in agreement that it’s in bad enough shape that building a new jail is our only option.”

Sullivan said the commission worked with Troy, Brundidge, Goshen and Banks officials to make sure everyone was on board with the plan

The resolution clarifies that the tax would cease once the construction costs are paid and earmarks the tax for the sole purpose of funding the jail’s construction.

Sullivan said the tax is expected to create $2.5 million a year for the county. Sullivan said the bill would go into effect immediately if passed.

Rhenis Jones of the architectural firm PH&J gave the commission an estimate last year that a new jail with 125 beds could cost between $8 million and $10 million.

The commission also passed a resolution asking the Legislature to allow them to raise court costs by $35 for the filing of all civil cases in Circuit Court and District Court and the filing of all criminal and quasi-criminal cases brought in the municipal, district and circuit courts within the county.

The court costs are earmarked for equipping, operating, repairing and maintaining the new jail.

The resolution also proposes a $500 tax on individuals convicted of selling or trafficking a controlled substance to go to the fund.

The commission requested bids for a jail feasibility study, which is required to get financing from the USDA, but did not receive any bids by the deadline.

Commissioner Russell Johnson, District 6, noted that officials at Troy University and Auburn University are in talks with the commission about conducting the feasibility study.

The commission on Monday also awarded a contract to Standard Roofing of Montgomery to repair the roof of the Pike County Jail after Kelly Barron, jail administrator reported the roof had begun leaking again after repairs were done to stabilize the jail walls.

Standard Roofing was the low bidder at $34,404. The next lowest bidder bid just over $35,000 and another company bid approximately $43,000 the project.

After weeks of discussion and debate the commission approved a resolution supporting a statewide 3-cent gas tax proposal that would fund resurfacing projects across the state, including about $10 million worth of work in Pike County and another $2 million in Troy.

Commissioners Johnson and Chad Copeland, District 4, who both voiced their opposition to the resolution in recent meetings, voted against the motion.

In other business the commission:

• Approved an on-and-off-premises beer and wine license to Hamilton Crossroads Dollar General. Commissioner Homer Wright, District 1, abstained.

• Reappointed existing members of the Pike County Water Authority board.

• Approved an appointment to replace a member of the E-911 board.

• Approved for the Revenue Office to advertise in-house to fill a position of a retiring employee.

The next regular meeting of the Pike County Commission will be held March 27 on the second floor of the Pike County Health Department. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. followed by the regular session at 6 p.m.