The first returns from last summer’s approval of two one-half cent sales taxes to build, equip and maintain a new 100-bed Logan County Detention Center hit the county’s bank accounts in March.
The two sales taxes brought in $79,170.47 each or a total of $158,340.94, according to a distribution report by State Treasurer Dennis Milligan. One half-cent will be used to finance bonds for jail construction and the other will be used for maintenance and operation.
The taxes were overwhelmingly passed, each receiving 71 percent of the vote last July, but state laws regarding an election challenge period, coupled with a requirement that the tax take effect on the first day of the quarter, pushed collection of the tax to Jan. 1 of this year.
Taxes collected in one month are remitted to Milligan’s office following month and back to the municipalities and counties on whose behalf they were collected in the month after that, meaning March was the first time county coffers realized income for the project.
Plans for the jail, to be built on county-owned property on South Lowder Street in Paris, were unanimously approved by the 15th Judicial District Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee on March 24.
The existing jail, built in the 1980s, has repeatedly been cited for failing to meet jail standards — specifically being overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe — prompting County Judge Ray Gack, County Sheriff Boyd Hicks and the Quorum Court take the measure to the people. The vote was taken on July 12 of last year.
Gack said after the meeting last month that once the State Fire Marshall signs off on the plan, advertisements for bids will go out for the project. The judge has stated he expects construction to take a year.
That’s not to say that funds haven’t been expended for the project yet because the county secured $10 million in bonds for construction on Oct. 17 of last year — the measure approved by voters would allow for a maximum of $13 million — and officials were permitted start spending that money in late November.