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Jail tax approved

Crawford County voters have approved a three-quarter percent sales tax to pay for a new detention center.

Voters only just approved the sales tax measure with about 51 percent of votes, allowing county officials to go ahead with plans to build a $20 million 270-bed jail facility at 4301 U.S. 64.

Two separate issues were up for vote as part of the measure - a half-percent tax to pay the debt service for the construction of the jail that will sunset in 2023, and a permanent quarter-percent tax for operations and maintenance.

Both passed, the half-percent with 51.59 percent of the votes, a final tally of 3,852 in favor of the tax. The quarter-percent tax received 3,926 votes in its favor, passing with 52.08 percent of the total votes. The count is still unofficial.

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said he was humbled and appreciative of the final vote.

“We just want to thank the citizens of Crawford County for making an investment in law enforcement and the future of Crawford County,” Brown said. “It’s an investment into law and order.”

Though similar proposed taxes to fund a new jail have been voted down three times in the past, Brown said “a lot of people got out there and worked for this.”

Crawford County Detention Center has been on probation for several years after being cited for, among other things, chronic overcrowding, understaffing, improper inmate segregation and inadequate storage.

Plans for the new jail are already underway, with a preliminary design and budget presented by SouthBuild TEAM LLC architecture group in April. Included in the plans are a new jail, sheriff’s office, 911 dispatch and arraignment courtroom.

Total inclusive costs are estimated by SouthBuild at $19.2 million, but include a number of contingency costs that, if proven unnecessary, could allow for additional beds or a quicker debt payoff.

“We can now move forward,” said Crawford County Judge John Hall. “We will make this a better place for the citizens of Crawford County for now and for the next 20 years.”

Cedarville’s 1-cent city sales tax was voted down Tuesday, with 67.96 percent - a final total of 193 votes - against the tax.

Cedarville Mayor Glenanna O’Mara said she had been “cautiously optimistic,” but was not surprised by the result.

“It was a coin toss and it didn’t go our way,” O’Mara said.

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