Jail tax today | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jail tax today

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2006 at 5:44 AM

Today's the last day to vote on the proposal to raise the county sales tax a quarter-cent to return the County Jail to some semblance of a status capable of handling the demand for places to lock up criminals. We're voting for it. We want burglars in jail, not "going to work" every day. We suspect we may be on the losing side. Nonetheless.

Sam Miller of North Little Rock, who served on the task force that studied the issue, sent this letter to the Democrat-Gazette in response to its editorial opposition to the tax.

Everyone knows how this one goes. The store runs an advertisement, usually a big ad, to get everyone's attention with a low, low price that is unbelievable. However, when the customer goes to the store, they find out the sale item either never existed or is sold out. Then the customer is typically told of another item for which he usually pays far more than he ever intended to pay in the first place. This is exactly what the Democrat-Gazette is doing in their recent editorial against the county jail tax.

The Democrat-Gazette presents the county jail tax vote as an issue in government needing a lesson in priorities. The Democrat-Gazette lists numerous examples of questionable spending for Pulaski County over the last several years. However, the Democrat-Gazette did not bother to inform us the total one time cost of construction they listed was less than 5 million dollars and all of the items they scraped together for recurring costs were less than $200,000 per year. The total dollars spent on the items in the Democrat-Gazette editorial would pay for less than one-third of the construction cost of the jail beds needed to provide adequate public safety in our community and would fund the jail operations for less than 4 days per year.

The ONLY issue is public safety. The Democrat Gazette chooses not to address the public safety needs of our community. Instead they just recommend us vote no. Voting no will cost us a lot more in insurance premiums, lost jobs, lost tourism dollars and decreased personal safety. Vote no and spend a lot more money. BAIT AND SWITCH!

The Public Safety Task recognized that not all past decisions by the county government have been wise. As a result, the Task Force recommended that all of the money generated from the one-quarter penny sales tax would go for the county jail and the jail only. This recommendation was incorporated into the ballot. This is in addition to ALL the dollars currently spent by Pulaski County at the jail and will continue to be spent at the jail and only at the jail. All of these funds will then be overseen by a Citizen's Advisory Committee to ensure all the funds are spent at the jail and only at the jail.

A yes the vote on September 12th, will help ensure the public that public safety and the jail are the priority of our county government. Unfortunately, the Democrat Gazette appears to care less about citizen’s safety and the costs to our community and their readers and they are willing to sacrifice public safety by urging their readers with a 'bait and switch” argument. Vote 'YES' on September 12 for public safety. Vote 'YES' on September 12 for financial accountability at the county jail overseen by citizens like you and me.

Scott A. Miller

Public Safety Task Force Member

North Little Rock

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