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Jail planners to set public meetings

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Funding options include income, property taxes or both

By KEVIN KOELLING, Managing Editor

TELL CITY – Details that have been worked out so far toward the possible construction of a new jail were presented during a joint meeting of the county commissioners and council Wednesday morning.

A committee has been working since 2009 to determine if the county can and should replace its aging facility in Cannelton. Attorney Chris Goffinet explained that two lawsuits have been lodged concerning the jail, and a resolution of one included an agreement to form a study committee.

No decisions were made Wednesday other than to present information to the public before proceeding into decisions about whether to build a new jail and if so, how to finance the project.

More details will be provided in an upcoming story, but information presented Wednesday pegged the total probable cost at just over $15 million. Three options for funding the work include repaying bonds entirely through property taxes, entirely through income taxes or a combination of the two. Any property-tax increase would require a referendum asking voters to approve a tax rate ranging from approximately 8 to 18 cents per $100 of assessed values, depending on the option chosen. A referendum would allow tax over “circuit-breaker” caps to be imposed. Such increases would add approximately $24 to $59 to annual tax bills for homes worth $100,000.

Owners of commercial property at the same value would see increases of $74 or $179 under the options employing property taxes.

Workers with $25,000 in adjusted gross income for state purposes would pay an additional $63 or $125 annually, depending on the option chosen.

The increases would range up to $500 and $1,000 for those earning $200,000.

“If you ask the general public if they want to increase taxes, you know what the answer will be,” noted Commissioner Tom Hauser.

Goffinet explained the committee will meet to determine when and where meetings will be scheduled throughout the county to provide members of the public the information presented Wednesday. Those meetings are likely to occur in coming weeks, he said.