No one likes to pay more taxes.
Voters are especially loathe to cough up more money if they’ve recently seen a hike in their tax bills, as Delaware County voters have with re-assessments and a nearly-three-million-dollar bond to help pay for the restoration of Lake Delhi.
On Tuesday, May 5, voters will consider another bond issue for almost $5 million that would pay for a renovation of the Delaware County jail and sheriff’s department.
It’s worth paying this stiff price for public safety. In the past three years, two inmates have broken out of the Delaware County jail. An inmate who broke free earlier this year was easily captured, but an inmate who broke free in November of 2012 knocked a jailer unconscious and led law enforcement on a multi-state chase before being captured in Indiana.
Early this year, the jail’s ancient lock system malfunctioned so that attempting to unlock one cell door might unlock… the doors to all the cells. Seriously? This would be laughable, if it wasn’t also a significant risk to public safety.
Clearly, security is not up to standard. The confines of the building do not allow for basic security measures such as a central control room that would allow jailers to see what’s going on throughout the jail.
It’s easy to look at public improvement projects as window dressing, and it’s important to ask if they are really necessary. But we think this one passes the litmus test of necessity.
On a $100,000 home, the property tax increase to pay for the new jail would be about $20 annually for the life of the 20-year bond. We think that’s a worthwhile investment.
And, while we support the jail referendum, we encourage everyone to go to the polls, whatever your opinion. The jail referendum almost gained the 60 percent approval to pass in the general election in November, and experienced officials think the bond issue has a better chance of passing in a special election such as Tuesday’s.
Unfortunately, in a special election, fewer people will take the time out to vote. Whether you support a safer jail or oppose the higher taxes it will bring, we encourage Delaware County voters to make it to the ballot box Tuesday: this is your opportunity to decide whether or not it’s worth paying for a new jail.
Our opinion is the consensus of the Dyerville Commercial editorial board.