Commission to vote on sales tax on Tuesday

January 24 – Funds for new prison reportedly appear in May primary ballot

The Lawrence County Commission is set to have its third and final reading Tuesday on a sales tax proposal to place on the May primary ballot.

The half percent sales tax would be used to fund the construction and operation of a new county jail and the funds raised could not be used for any other purpose, the county commission chairwoman said. Lawrence, DeAnna Holliday.

Holliday said a new jail would require additional jobs beyond what the current county jail has and sales tax would be used to pay for that.

The tax would be one cent for every two dollars of sales in Lawrence County.

Holliday said the commission listened to voters on property taxes and levies and that a sales tax would be shared by everyone, “not just property owners.”

She said a levy would insulate a small group from the financial burden.

She said funds will also be raised from those out of state who shop in Lawrence County.

“People work across the river and we house inmates from other states and they would share responsibility,” she said.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced last year that the state of Ohio would fund $16.8 million for the new prison from a capital appropriations fund. Holliday said the prison would be a $32 million project.

“We have faced this dilemma for decades and this is the best opportunity we have to set up a new prison,” she said.

Holliday said she heard some say the existing county jail became obsolete soon after it was built in 1974. She said the county undertook a study to determine exactly what was needed in Lawrence County.

“It will take us into the future,” she said, saying the new jail could serve the county well for “decades to come.”

Holliday said the county’s main revenue system comes from taxpayers and a sales tax would ensure a fair distribution of costs.

Holliday said the tax, if it passes the primary, would go into effect in the fall.

Aurora J. William