Commissioners approve sheriff’s levy request for May election

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — The Meigs County Commissioners approved the placement of a bond issue for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility during a special meeting on Monday morning.

The commissioners unanimously approved the language as prepared by Prosecutor James K. Stanley for the 2.95 mill bond issue.

The resolution approved states in part, “Shall bonds be issued by Meigs County for the purpose of financing the constructing, furnishing, equipping, maintaining and operating of a new Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Corrections Facility, including demo, site improvements and associated costs.”

The bonds would be in the principle amount of approximately $9 million to be repaid annually over a maximum period of 30 years.

The proposed 2.95 mill property tax levy would be used to pay the annual debt charges on the bonds and to pay debt charges on any notes in anticipation of those bonds, according to the language approved by the commissioners.

An affirmative vote would be required for approval during the May 2 primary election.

The levy would generate $1,138,488.34 annually, according to figures from Meigs County Auditor Mary Byer-Hill.

So what does a 2.95 mill levy mean to tax payers in the county?

The levy would cost a property owner 29.5 cents for each $100 of tax valuation on a person’s property.

To use the example of a property with an appraised value of $100,000, the increase to the person’s annual property tax, should the bond issue be approved, would be an additional $92.93 each year, according to numbers provided to the Sentinel by Byer-Hill.

As reported last week by the Sentinel, should the levy be approved by voters, the plan is for the construction of a 62-person facility located at the site of the former Veterans Memorial Hospital on Memorial Drive in Pomeroy.

“A little over four years ago, when I was bestowed the honor and privilege of protecting and serving the citizens of Meigs County, I came into the office with several goals to make our county safer through the efforts to offer more training, equipment, school resource officers, a canine unit and expansion of our housing facility,” stated Wood in the letter to the commissioners last week asking for the levy to be placed on the ballot.

During Monday’s meeting, the sheriff was asked to explain where the 62 person figure came from and if that size was necessary for the county.

Wood explained that on average, the county holds 20-25 people per day, but has held up to 48 at one time. He added that they do not want to build the facility and then still be in the situation to need outside housing for prisoners.

In addition to being able to house its own prisoners, Wood said, the space would allow for the county to house prisoners from outside agencies which would generate revenue.

Major Scott Trussell explained that the current jail space is only approved to hold five prisoners for a maximum of 12 days, meaning that after 12 days a person must be transported to an outside facility. Additionally, medical requirements mandate that a person held for more than 14 days receive a medical evaluation which cannot be conducted at the current Meigs County jail, but must take place at a full-service facility.

Wood also stated that the housing shortage in southeast Ohio would mean that construction of the proposed facility would not have a negative impact on the Middleport jail, as the need for housing out numbers the available space in the area.

In the past year, the sheriff’s office has covered more than 20,000 miles to transport prisoners to outside facilities, going as far as Stark, Morrow and Butler counties.

“The construction of a larger facility will mean our deputies will no longer be out of the county transporting inmates to distant incarceration facilities, leaving us short staffed, and our budget strained and stretched to the point of breaking,” stated Wood in the letter.

A new facility would also allow for program space to offer recovery services to those who are in need of such services in an effort to stop what can become a revolving door for some.

The documentation approved by the commissioners, and certified by the auditor’s office, is required to be filed with the Board of Elections by 4 p.m. on Tuesday in order to be placed on the May ballot.

By Sarah Hawley

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews