Tillman County will vote on sales tax to save jail June 13th

TILLMAN COUNTY, OK (KSWO) -Voters in Tillman County will head to the polls soon to decide on a half-cent sales tax to help keep the county jail open.The special election will be held on June 13th.

The Department of Corrections canceled its contracts with Tillman County and others across the state due to the budget shortfall so they will transfer all of Tillman County's inmates to private prisons.

The county still owes $2.7 million on the bond they took out to build the jail, with 17 years left on the payoff. This new bond would allow them to pay off that bond now, offset the loss of the nearly $60,000  a month from the cancellation of the D.O.C. contract, and keep the detention center running.

Glenn Redeker, a Tillman County resident understands the there are a lot of budget cuts being made all over the state and he isn't happy about it, but he says if he has to pay another half-cent sales tax to help his county Jail survive and pay off a bond, he'll do it.

"I think it's going to be the only solution because there's two solutions," said Redeker. "Default. Let the bond holders take us to court. They're going to get their money and if it goes to court, they can't institute a sales tax, they'll have to institute a huge property tax on all the property owners in Tillman County."

County Commissioners say the half-cent sales tax is estimated to bring in about 175 to 190 thousand dollars per year to pay off the remaining bond. Both the commissioners and some residents agree the tax is a necessary evil.

"We're going to pay for it," said Redeker. "And if we have to close down the jail, that means it's going to be a whole lot more expensive because we've got to pay for the transportation back and forth from another jail back to our courthouse for any proceedings. It's a whole lot more expensive on our county to do that then to go ahead and pay the obligation."

Joe Don Dickey, District 2 Commissioner hopes residents understand this is the most reasonable solution for the county and this is the first step in fixing this problem.

"This is your community," said Dickey. "I mean, we don't want to send a signal of failure. We don't want to be a failure. If we fail, the situation could come back to us through ad valor em. You could have tax abatements that could be forced on us."

He says until the state steps up and creates some revenue streams, he thinks rural America will continue to flounder, but he promises the residents of Tillman County, the Commissioners are fighting for their best interest.

"It's not the end of the world," said Dickey. "We can do this. We can make this a positive situation and I would implore the voters of Tillman County to vote, yes."

Dickey asks if anyone has any questions about the special election, to call the commissioners office or attend one of the upcoming town hall meetings...and we will keep you updated on those dates as soon as we know.

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