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County jail being paid off early; officials hopeful for county sales tax

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Logan County’s citizens may remember, in 2005, they passed a ten year sales tax proposition to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the new Detention Center over a period of ten years.  The termination of that sales tax is August 2015.

New Jail PodSheriff Jim Bauman took office in 2009 and took on the goal of paying off the sales tax early. During the past few years, the sales tax income has been more than projected and Bauman has paid extra toward the salaries and maintenance for the Detention Center. On June 30, Bauman and the remainder of the Logan County Jail Trust Authority voted to begin preparations to pay the sales tax loan off one full year early. The process may take up to a month or more to complete as it requires consensus from the lender as well.

“We have received preliminary approval and are attempting to have the process completed in time for the payoff to occur in August 2014,” Chief Deputy Richard Stephens said.

Bauman JailJudge Rob Hudson, who was the District Attorney in 2005 when the original sales tax was proposed, spoke to the Jail Trust Authority on June 30. During this speech, he reminded the Jail Trust and the others in attendance that the original plans of the County at that time were to complete the project and after the sales tax was complete in August 2015, they intended to propose a much smaller sales tax to the voters to continue funding the operations and maintenance of the Detention Center. Hudson spent some time explaining the thought process at the time, and how the statutory requirements of County Jail Operations has changed over time. Hudson urged the Jail Trust Authority and the county commissioners to work toward that goal and continue funding the operations and maintenance of the Detention Center through a smaller sales tax after the original is completed in August of 2014.

Dispatch JailCounty Commissioners placed a smaller sales tax proposal on the ballot for the August 26 election. This new sales tax reduces the tax to three quarters of one cent with a quarter cent for continued operation and maintenance of the Detention Center, a quarter cent to the 13 county fire departments and a quarter cent would go toward improving and maintaining the county roads.

The quarter cent portion for the Detention Center will be used specifically to continue to pay the operational and maintenance expenses.

“As Judge Hudson explained, these expenses were expected to be paid by the original sales tax, and then continued by a new, reduced sales tax after the original sales tax sunset in August 2015,” Stephens said.

A view of the old Logan County Jail space.

A view of the old Logan County Jail space.

“Sheriff Bauman’s commitment to fiscal success has paid off.  We have entered into contracts with the Aramark Corporation to provide food services to the Detention Center for a very low cost per meal. We have also contracted with the Advanced Correctional Healthcare Corporation (ACH) to provide required medical care for the Detention Center. This has been a blessing in many ways. ACH has been able to negotiate a greatly reduced payment schedule for providers outside the facility. This has reduced these operational expenses dramatically,” Stephens added.

Stephens went on to say the Sheriff’s Office has contracted with the City Telecoin Corporation to provide inmate telephone services to the inmates; and the Homewav Corporation to provide video visitation services to the inmates and their families. Both of these contracts also provide small sources of income to the Sheriff’s Office.

A view of the old Logan County Jail space.

A view of the old Logan County Jail space.

The Sheriff’s Office has also entered into an agreement with the United States Marshal’s Service to house federal detainees while they are in the court process in Oklahoma City. This agreement provides funding to the Detention Center that has helped pay the sales tax off early. However, this funding is not certain and could stop at any point without notice.

“There is no way of adding these funds into the budget equation as it is not guaranteed income,” Stephens said.

Stephens is quick to add the above funding is not enough to support the jail with an annual $1.3 million budget.

“Even with all of the savings that these contracts have provided and the income streams that the telephone and video visitation have provided; the expense of staffing, maintaining, and operating the Detention Center is much greater than the County as a whole can absorb. The intention has always been to continue funding these requirements through a greatly reduced sales tax. This is the way many Counties in Oklahoma fund their Sheriff and Detention Center operations,” Stephens said.

“Sheriff Bauman and the Logan County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center are very proud of the accomplishment of being able to pay off the sales tax a year early. This takes off a year of the burden from the current sales tax. However, we still need the continued support of the citizens and visitors to Logan County to continue to fund the operations and maintenance of the Detention Center,” Stephens concluded.

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