POMEROY — As voters prepare to head to the polls next week to vote on the bond issue/tax levy for the proposed Meigs County Correctional Facility, the Sentinel is taking a look at the numbers behind the bond issue/levy and what it could potentially cost local taxpayers.
Voters have heard that the proposed levy is a 2.95 mill, 30-year levy which will pay for the construction of the facility, as well as the operation of it, but what does 2.95 mills mean to an individual’s property taxes.
Using the tax estimator available at meigsauditor.org, the Sentinel ran the numbers on what a 2.95 mill levy would cost county tax payers.
- A property owner with property valued at $60,000 would see a tax increase of $5.17 per month. (A total of $62 for the year).
- A property owner with property valued at $80,000 would see a tax increase of $6.92 per month. (A total of $83 for the year).
- A property owner with a property valued at $100,000 would see a tax increase of $8.58 per month. (A total of $103 per year).
- A property owner with a property valued at $200,000 would see a tax increase of $17.25 per month. (A total of $207 per year).
- A property owner with a property valued at $300,000 would see a tax increase of $25.83 per month. (A total of $310 per year).
As the Meigs County Jail can currently hold only five inmates for a a period of up to 12 days, the county must currently house inmates are numerous outside facilities. Those facilities range from the nearby Middleport Jail and Gallia County Work Release Center to counties as far as three hours away such as Crawford and Morrow Counties.
Numbers provided by the sheriff’s office show that, in the first 10 months of 2017, deputies have driven more than 32,500 miles to transport prisoners to outside facilities, something that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 cost the county nearly $175,000 in housing alone. In comparison, deputies drive 21,792 miles to transport prisoners in 2016.
Each facility has its own rate for outside housing contracts, with the costs ranging from $48 per day for each inmate to $70 per day for each inmate. This cost only includes housing and food, not medical, transportation or other costs.
In one day alone, a deputy spent 12 hours to transport one prisoner, explained Sheriff Keith Wood. The individual was housed at Madison Correctional, a three hour drive from Meigs County, meaning the deputy drove three hours to pick up the person and three hours back after picking up. Wood added that the hearing was continued after arrival at court, leading to the need to transport back to Madison Correctional — another three hour drive each way.
Through Nov. 1, the county has booked a total of 312 inmates in 2017 (some more than once), with an average daily population of nearly 17 inmates. There were 201 male inmates and 56 female inmates over the course of the first 10 months of 2017. The average stay for an inmate is just over 242 days.
On average, in 2016, the daily inmate population was 16, with an average stay of 193 days. With the ability to only house five inmates at its own facility, 70 percent of the housing for the sheriff’s office was at an outside facility.
Not included in that housing cost are medical expenses.
Medical expenses for inmates (which must be paid by the county) have topped $53,000 for 2017.
Wood said this number could be reduced by having medical staff available in a new facility, reducing the number of emergency room transports.
Wood stated that a new facility would allow for the creation of around 25 new jobs, as well as increasing public safety in the county as deputies would not constantly be on the road transporting prisoners.
Currently, deputies are spending time out of the county on transports, leading to fewer deputies on duty in the county at any given time.
A new facility would also provide options for treatment programs to take place with those housed at the facility, an effort to reduce repeat inmates and help with the drug epidemic.
An open house at the current jail and sheriff’s office is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.
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