Last night, Madison County residents were given a chance to voice their concerns over a proposed tax increase that would fund a $45 million dollar jail expansion. During last night’s meeting homeowners were told the increase would amount from 100 to 300 dollars annually, depending on the size of their homes.
Many opposed the increase, with several taxpayers saying that they just couldn’t afford any more taxes. Madison County homeowners expressed concern over the increasing property values of their homes, which has lead to higher mortgages even though Madison County homeowner’s taxes have not been raised since 1966.
However, there was also a sizable portion of the crowd who were in favor of more room in the chronically over-crowded detention center. The well-being of law enforcement officials, a lack of inmate rehabilitation services, and the eventual costs of maintaining the current conditions were cited as reasons for changes.
The town hall panel was well prepared to answer any and all questions proposed by the inquiring citizens. The panel included Mike Coyle (Sheriff, Madison County), Steve Tussey (Jailer, Madison County), Glenna Baker (Fiscal Court Treasurer), Kirstie Willard (Director, Kentucky Department of Corrections), Rich Ornstein (General Counsel, Kentucky Association of Counties), and Lonnie Campbell (Assistant Director, Kentucky Association of Counties). Questions ranging from the details of the proposed jail expansion to the rising drug epidemic were handled accordingly from their respective areas of expertise.
In the end, the town hall concluded cordially, with support being garnered from both viewpoints. Watch the video here to get all the highlights of the comments from citizens, who were divided in the end over the new proposed changes that could come about once this potential tax increase comes to a vote.
Following last week’s story of the potential tax increase for home owners in madison county, tensions have been high county wide. However, tonight residents can voice their concerns and speak to officials at a town hall meeting regarding this proposed increase in order to fund the much-awaited expansion of the jail.
WBONtv spoke to Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey ahead of Tuesday’s meeting about the chronically overcrowded detention center to get the inside look at exactly how overburdened the jail is. Tussey says he made a decision to cap the inmate population at 450 recently as there were no more options, even with the home incarceration program.
This is even considering that nearly 100 Madison County inmates have been spread across 12 other county jails in Kentucky. This, Tussey says, is currently costing the County and taxpayers $1.5 Million a year. Tissey continues that he has short term and long term goals in place, including an agreement with Laurel County to house inmates when their current jail expansion project is completed in the near future.
MCDC was designed to only have 184 beds, but has been recently hovering around 413 inmates. The government for the county will hear a second reading and then vote on the potential increase in the coming weeks.
For the first time since 1966, property taxes county-wide in Madison County could be raised.
This is following this morning’s Madison County Fiscal Court meeting, where it was proposed in a first reading to potentially raise property taxes in order to 100% fund the long-awaited jail expansion for the county.
WBONtv spoke with Madison County Treasurer Glenna Baker as well as Jailer for the County Steve Tussey, who said that many may be up in arms over this potential tax increase for the County.
However, Baker reiterates that this is only the first reading, and that the taxes on property have not been increased in decades.
Additionally, officials report that they have looked at all other options in order to fund the jail’s strains, where there are currently over 430 inmates in the 184 bed facility.
Laws statewide affect what the County can raise as far as taxes, as Baker reports in the video. Therefore, the county has no choice but to vote on this new potential increase strictly for property owners. They add that this is separate from the Richmond and Berea city property taxes, and applies county-wide.
Stay tuned to WBONtv as we will update this story when the Fiscal Court takes up the second reading in the coming weeks.