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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

NEW LAWRENCE COUNTY JAIL HAS A HUGE PRICE TAG ON TAXPAYER S- REFERENDUM INFORMATION

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

LAWRENCE COUNTY - DECEMBER 24, 2022 - After waiting more than twelve years since the first jail study, there has been a request for the construction of a new correctional facility in Lawrence County.


The Current Lawrence County Jail was built in 1990

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The first jail study conducted by former Sheriff Sam Craig was largely ignored by Lawrence County Commissioners and Lawrence County Council member at the time.


Another Justice Study in May 2022 costing taxpayers $41,000 again is calling for a new jail and justice complex to be built on Beech Street in Bedford.


  • 1. Proposed Jail

  • 2. Future expansion of jail

  • 3. Sally port

  • 4. Secured Parking

  • 5.Deliveries

  • 6. Proposed surface parking

  • 7. Future Justice Campus - Courts building, Community Corrections, Probation

  • 8. Communication and Office

  • 9. Storm water retention

  • 10. Overhead Utilities

Many want the current jail moved off the public square.


The report did not address a remodel and adding additional space to the current jail built in 1990. The cost of the construction of a new jail facility is estimated at $35 Million and $ 7.3 Million in cost for furniture and other features not included in the construction cost. This will leave a cost of $42 Million starting out.


Proposed new jail facility is estimated with construction cost of $35 Million ( May 2021 however with inflation those costs will be larger) Other cost for furniture is estimated at $7.3 Million and with inflation those costs are also expected to be much larger.



By the time the new correctional facility is built, the taxpayers will have paid out more than $58 Million in 19 years. Interest rates throughout start out over 3 percent and end up at over 5 percent during the 19-year period of the bond issue used to pay for the new jail.


In order to pay for the new jail Correctional Income Tax will be implemented, along with an additional Local Income Tax of .35 percent added to the existing Local income Tax people who work in Lawrence County pays.


Lawrence County Council passed the highest budget of $29 Million for 2023 which will have a impact on taxpayers.


SHOULD LAWRENCE COUNTY COMMISSIONER LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ON BUILDING NEW JAIL?


Lawrence County Commissioners could allow the taxpayers the ability to decide if the taxpayers want the new jail. Or Lawrence County Commissioners could decide by themselves in a future vote.


Lawrence County Commissioner Wally Branham, President Rodney Fish and Dustin Gabhart


If the Lawrence County Commissioners decided they want the new jail, then the Lawrence County Council will have to vote on the proposal and implement the taxes to pay for the facility.


A new Lawrence County Council consisting of Amy Redman and Phil Inman will join Julie Chase, Rick Butterfield, Janie "Craig" Chenualt, Julie Heweston, and Jeff Lytton on the implementation of a Correctional Income Tax and adding additional levy to the Local Income Tax to people who work in Lawrence County


What is a referendum?


A referendum is a public question placed on a ballot by a local unit. Past referenda have included construction projects (for various taxing units, including schools) and operating needs (for schools). In this case the building of a new correctional facility.


Property taxes that are approved by voters in a referendum are not subject to the property tax caps. Therefore, any successful referendum may result in a property tax bill that exceeds the caps (1% of assessed value for homesteads [owner-occupied residence], 2% for other residential properties and farmland, and 3% for all other property).


Taxpayers can petition for a referendum


Petition/Remonstrance & Referendum Information


A taxpayer should contact their county voter registration office to obtain the proper petition forms to use under IC 6-1.1-20. However, the time to act is now, and a the taxpayers may have to pay for a special election.


The question on a new jail is how quick the Lawrence County Commissioner would like to move on the proposed new jail


No decisions have been made; however, a work session was held on Tuesday of this week to start discussing the matter.


The Lawrence County Zephyr was not able to attend the meeting due to other commitments. However, the public was allowed to attend the meeting.


The work session was only posted on the Lawrence County Courthouse wall at the Auditors office and the news media was not given prior notice of the meeting as normally the case in public meetings.


The Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs, by state statue, is only required this only notification to the public. The Lawrence County Zephyr was at the courthouse on Monday and discovered the public meeting. Lawrence County Zephyr then posted the notice on Monday only hours before the meeting.


No one from the Lawrence County Auditor's Office,Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, Lawrence County Commissioners, or Lawrence County Council , notified the news media of the public work session.


Public hearings especially on proposed tax increases and adding additional income tax to those who work in Lawrence County will be held at a future time.


For breaking news, news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow us on Facebook.


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