The Star Beacon disappointed in its editorial support of the 20 year sales tax for the construction of a new county jail. The piece blindly accepted the premise of a new facility without questioning the necessity of nearly 300 beds, the location of 1 ½ miles away from the county courthouse, and the payment of $10,000 per acre in Jefferson. My arguments in opposition will require multiple letters, but let me start with the tremendous price tag for the land.
First, as someone who regularly entered the current county jail to visit clients for over 20 years, I am witness to the dire straits of that facility. It is not safe and action does need to be taken.
However, I cannot remain silent as to the reckless planning and wasteful spending plan of the proposed facility. Shall I say it seems criminal? The Board of Commissioners are focused on a new facility at a different location. They also kept this location a guarded secret for a long time, all while sitting on a proposal that would not cost anything additional for land. This proposal depicts expanding the jail at its current location; a facility expanded over the current parking lot, on stilts, which would not only expand the jail facility, but would cover and maintain the current courthouse parking. Cost of land = $0.
Instead the Commissioners want the taxpayers to approve the purchase of 35 acres in Jefferson at the cost of $10,000 per acre! While there is land in Ashtabula County valued at or above $10,000 per acre, these parcels are located along water or zoned for commercial/industrial use.
There is no land in Jefferson within 5 miles of the proposed facility with comparable value. Then why such an outrageous sales price?
Action does need to be taken in regard to the county jail, but wasting money on such an outrageous purchase price is just the beginning of the wasteful and reckless proposal of these Commissioners.
Please join me in voting “no” on the 20 year sales tax.