Sheriff OK with halt of jail tax vote<br><i>... As long as county comes up with financing </i>

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SHERIFF Buck Buchanan

He also has no beef with the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors decision to cancel a March 2004 election aimed at doubling the county jail district sales tax, and instead use sales tax money from the county’s regional roads program to meet the jails’ growing needs.

The new plan will divert $4 million annually into the jail district – down from the estimated $6 million that would have flowed in with the half-cent sales tax increase.

“As long as we fund necessary jail functions with the money that we’ve got, I don’t have a problem with it,” Buchanan said. “My job is to operate the jail. Their job is to fund the jail.

“We’ve given them the staff proposals and told them what the future needs would be, and they seem to think they can do it.”

Jail operations have become a hot-button local issue recently, as the county continues to look for ways to handle a growing inmate population.

The construction of an expanded jail in Camp Verde answered some of those concerns, but not without creating its own problems – namely, finding the money to pay for staff and operating the jail.

With all phases of the new jail slated to open early next year, the Board of Supervisors opted in September for a proposed quarter-cent increase to the sales tax instead of a property tax hike to meet the jail’s financial obligations.

The added money – which the sales tax would have provided until 2020 – also was to have helped pay for the construction of a new jail in western Yavapai County in the near future. For the time being, the money will become available without any added burden on county taxpayers.

“I think it’s a good decision,” said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. “As county attorney, my main concern is keeping the streets as safe as I can.

“As a fiscal conservative, I certainly applaud the board, that they could find a way to pay for the jail without raising taxes.”

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