There have been many questions and concerns expressed about the upcoming election for a proposed temporary one cent sales tax to build a new Brinkley City Jail and an extension and remodel of the court room at Brinkley City Hall. We will try to address some of the major questions and misinformation in this post, so that our citizens are well informed before casting their vote.
The estimated cost of the project is $3,405,000.00 and the bond would be scheduled for a nine year period. The estimated projection of revenue from the temporary one cent sales tax is $630,000 per year, estimating the bond to be paid off in five years.
Since the Brinkley Jail was changed to a twenty-four hour holding facility on August 1, 2016, the city has spent $120,000.00 to hold inmates at other facilities and GPS monitoring. This amount doesn’t include transport expenses, including salary of officers, overtime pay, mileage on police units and fuel, to and from the other facilities for court, doctor’s appointments, etc. We try to utilize city and county jails in the surrounding area, but often these facilities are at capacity, so we are forced to house inmates in facilities further away than are practical or economical. Housing inmates at other facilities cost the city $40 to $80 per day, per inmate, depending on what facility has bed space available and whether the inmate is male or female. While we try to house our inmates at Monroe County Jail, where we pay $40 per day, per inmate, they are often full due to housing inmates charged with felonies. The GPS monitoring system is utilized as often as possible, but is not effective in crime prevention or fine collection. We will not be able to sustain these costs for housing and GPS monitoring and will eventually have to release inmates that if incarcerated, would make our streets safer. The cost for us to house our own inmates is approximately $8 - $10 per day per inmate.
We are often faced with having to release an inmate less likely to offend, to hold one we feel is more likely to re-offend. This temporary tax, if passed, will eliminate that choice having to be made. The bed space projected will also allow Brinkley City Jail to hold inmates for other agencies to generate revenue to help sustain the cost of daily operation of the jail. The citizens of Brinkley will not be solely responsible for the cost of the day-to-day expenses of the jail. The jail would also be energy efficient, as to keep costs to a minimum.
Citizens also have concerns with the “Hamburger Tax” and why we can’t use the money for the jail. This is a two-cent tourism tax from 1993. This tax generates approximately $200,000.00 per year and is collected from motels, hotels, restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and similar establishments within the city to sustain Brinkley’s Convention Center. According to the ballot from 1993, this was not proposed as a temporary tax and an election will have to be held to repeal the tax. The amount generated by this tax yearly, would not pay back the proposed bond in the time allowed.
Brinkley citizens are not only voting to build a jail, they are voting for the ability to feel safe in their homes and on our city streets. Vote YES on August 8, 2017 to making our community safer and keeping our tax dollars in our city.