Jail construction tax has generated over $5.7 million

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Just 17 months into collecting the sales tax for the construction of a new jail, the county has already brought in more than $5.7 million.

The tax was levied starting on Oct. 1 2017, raising the sales tax 0.5 percent in the City of Troy and 1.5 percent in the rest of the county.

The commission initially projected that the tax would generate $2.5 million in annual revenue; at the current rate, it is generating approximately $4.05 million per year.

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County administrator McKenzie Wilson said the revenue has grown in the first five month of the fiscal year over the same period last year.

“We have brought in 9 percent more than we had at this time last year,” Wilson said.

Based on projections by TCU Consulting Services, the third party firm brought in to conduct the jail feasibility study, a new jail would cost the commission approximately $30 million when all costs are considered.

No money is currently being spent on jail construction as the commission continues to deliberate on where to build the new facility.

After two public hearings in February, the commission voted 4-1 to eliminate the current jail site as a possible option for the new jail facility.

“After our public hearings and engaging with people that were there, I think it’s probably time to move ahead and engage TCU with the second phase and decide whether we’re going to go offsite and not at the courthouse,” said Commissioner Chad Copeland, District 4. “That way they can start giving us site assessments to start making decisions on that.”

Now the commission is considering alternative sites, including two properties that have ben discussed publicly and another four or five that have not been revealed.

One of the sites is already owned by the county at the Pike County Road Department. While the county would not have to purchase the property, commissioners said the site does not have a sewer system, so that cost must be considered. The location is also less centralized to the county than the current site.

Another option is the Dunbar Drive property currently owned by the Troy Housing Authority. The housing authority is planning to dispose of and sale the property, although it has not yet been approved to do so.

Concerns were raised at the public hearings about the proximity of the site to local schools.

Commissioners said the other sites are being kept confidential to maintain leverage in negotiations.

Once the commissioners decide on a site and hire an architect, the money will come from the tax fund.

The tax is set to expire when the construction costs of the jail are met. Chairman Robin Sullivan said he believes that the purchase of land as well as the construction of a court building and sheriff’s office at the site would be covered as part of those construction costs.