St. Clair Co. board approves tax increase measure, benefitting jail renovations

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by Lauren Trager / News 4 | @LaurenTrager

KMOV.com

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 10:42 PM

(KMOV) -- On Monday night, the St. Clair County board overwhelmingly approved a measure to increase the sales tax to renovate the county jail.

 “I’ll vote no on a new tax,” said Phil Knapper, a diner at Mariachi’s in Belleville.

Still, in March, he might have to a pay a little more for his meal.  The county is asking voters for a one-fourth cent sales tax increase on a lot of what they buy.

“I would much rather have a sales tax not a property tax,” said Sheriff Rick Watson.

Sheriff Rick Watson said the aged and outdated jail is critically overcrowded, sometimes 100 inmates over capacity. Dangerous criminals are crammed in on the floor and often shuffled around.

“Every time you move an inmate you cause a security problem and we do that all the time,” said Sheriff Rick Watson.

Often, too, they have to let lesser criminals go, just to make room. The price tag to renovate: $37 million, far less than the $80 plus to rebuild all together. This, he says, is the fiscally responsible option and there will be no fluff.

“There’s no pools,” he said.

 “We need to find a way to get crime down, and then pay for them to be in there,” said Paul Compton.

“Any kind of sales tax increase, I am against because it’s pretty high already,” Knapper said.

Under the law, groceries, medical items and any item requiring a title would be exempt, including cars, boats, etc.  The measure will be on the ballot in March. 

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